The average American worker uses almost 10,000 sheets or approximately two cases of paper a year according to the Resource Conservation Alliance in Washington DC, this number does not include any paper used for magazines, newspapers, and personal use. While according to Digital Publishing International we use more than 786 million trees just to keep the world in paper for one year. Over the years studies have shown that paper consumption continues to grow. ForestEthics.com indicates that consumption is up by 20% year over year.
Many companies do not even include paper as a line item in their yearly budgets; this can be a mistake, since these same companies fail to recognize the true cost of paper. In evaluating the true cost we must also look at the storage, lost documents, waste, and labor costs. Let’s look at these pieces of the puzzle a little further, storage for example; in an average office with 50 people on site and an average document flow, 200 or so file cabinets’, taking up additional office space of 2400 sq ft (based on 12 sq ft ea) to hold what is in flow today and over $40,000 in additional costs for the cabinets. Those same documents could fit on to a single server and reduce the cost significantly. They would actually be able to reduce their physical foot print along with costs. With prime real estate costing upwards of $2.00 sq ft, even in these tough times, the monthly savings would $4800 a month or almost $58,000 a year. For many small to mid size companies this could be the cost of an additional employee, which might mean no or reduced reduction in their workforce.
Next we should look at the cost with in the workforce. We will use the same office in this example. These same 50 people spend approximately 1.5 hours a day generating, filing, and accessing paper, this includes having to recreate documents that get misplaced as well. These employees earn an average of $30 an hour, with some executives earning significantly more. They are spending a combined total of 75 hours a day touching paper. This is costing the company $2,250 a day, $49,500 on the low end a month or almost $600,000 in salary a year to touch paper. Beyond the labor and storage cost, cost per print (CPP) needs to be looked as well. The average CPP is $0.015 it includes toner, paper, and minimal maintenance. This does not include the cost of the printer or major repairs like drum kits etc. Using the average of 10,000 sheets per office worker average, this office generates 42,000 documents a month or just over a half million sheets a paper a year. At $0.015 CPP they are spending $630.00 a month or $7500 a year.
If we could reduce each these costs just by half this company would be saving $332,750 a year in real estate, salary, and CPP or $27,729.16 a month. With the introduction of digital document management in their environment this company would begin to see an immediate ROI and be able to reduce costs and increase productivity.
Further research from PricewaterhouseCoopers, shows the time spent on paper in today’s typical organization:
o 90% of all the pages that get handled each day in the average office are merely shuffled.
o The average document gets copied 19 times.
o 7.5 percent of all documents get lost, 3 percent of the remainder get misfiled.
o Professionals spend 5-15 percent of their time reading information, and up to 50 percent of their time looking for it.
o There are over 4 trillion paper documents in the U.S. alone – growing at a rate of 22 percent per year.
Taking these numbers into consideration with the others mentioned above it is vitally important that companies begin to look at the cost of paper in their organizations and what they can do to reduce it, not only to bring their budgets in line but to also assist our global situation as well.
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