How Big Is The Problem?

The cost of the paper we use is not just financial. From a sustainability point of view, there’s also a large environmental cost.

  • Each year, Australians use 1.518 million tonnes of printing and writing paper¹.
  • At an estimated 24 trees per tonne², this amount of paper uses up the projected equivalent of 36 million trees.
  • The process of turning these trees into paper uses large amounts of water and energy.
  • A significant amount of paper is imported every year, creating significant transport emissions. Dumping paper in landfill also creates methane – a greenhouse gas that’s 25 times more potent than CO2.

A big part of this problem is the huge amount of paper that people use in the workplace. A 2009 audit showed that each Australian government employee uses an average of 9,300 sheets of office paper every year³.

Given this excessive use of paper, it’s no surprise to read that paper waste is the single biggest component of solid waste in the workplace4.

The secondary impacts of our paper use also have major financial and environmental implications.

The electricity used to power printers, faxes and photocopiers costs money and creates emissions that contribute to climate change. There can also be costs to leasing equipment that uses paper.

In 2009, Australian businesses sent 4.2 billion paper items by post5. Delivering this mail generates significant greenhouse emissions and creates a dent in the bottom line of Australian businesses. Much of this communication can now be done electronically at a massively reduced cost.

While your business can’t go without paper, there are some very good reasons to ‘Save Paper’.

Read some great tips on how to reduce your paper usage.


1 The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) (2011)
2 The Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC)
3 The Australian National Audit Office: ‘Green Office Procurement and Sustainable Office Management’ (2009)
4 Resource NSW, ‘Waste Reduction in Office Buildings, A Guide for Tenants’ (2002)
5 Australian Financial Review: ‘Paper cut could hurt Australia Post’s bottom line’, pg.3 (29/07/09)

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