Some problems of trying to be too “green”?

Whilst the practice tries to be as paperless as possible, there are still a fair few clients that have paper-based products from us – reports, tax returns, accounts etc. And there are still a few people that prefer to read and annotate physical paper documents rather than performing these processes on screen.

Inevitably this gives rise to paper stacks – piles of paper generated but then not needed to be placed on files (some still exist(!), and not needed to be sent out etc. This then provides a ready source of “scrap paper” e.g rough notes, scribble pads, etc.

However, it recently came to light that one or two people were recycling this paper and putting it back into the printers for reuse; the same people that turn lights off every time they go out of a room and put their PC on standby.

This procedure gives rise to possible jamming issues, especially if the paper has been creased or curled at the edges or has had staples inserted and removed.

All files and paperwork are scanned to the document management system and it was in reviewing a scanned file (on screen) that this process came to light; pages were being displayed relating to a different section completely.

Having paper which is not part of the current file, albeit that it might be from the same client, even if the reverse side is filed upside down, can be rather confusing when looking through a file.  Also, if it happens to be from another client, there are potential issues regarding GDPR i.e. you would only expect to see information on a file relating to that client only.

There are now very efficient scanning units that automatically double side scan and also remove blank pages where appropriate.  By printing on used paper, these unwanted pages will be scanned and not automatically removed, so in theory would have to be manually removed.  It may not even be noticed initially. The use of “new” paper makes the scanning procedure much faster and easier to process in due course.

It could also have been very embarrassing (to say the least) if the printouts had actually been sent out with someone else’s data on the reverse (think GDPR)! So NO more paper recycling through printers please!

The savings in encouraging the use of portals and going paperless would far outweigh the cost of a few sheets of paper. Not printing in the first place is a good start! Add up postage costs, toner, envelopes and the cost of sending out printed copy is not cheap.

A quick Google search revealed that leaving a PC and monitor on standby cost around £7 p.a. (2014 rates); the equivalent of around 3 or 4 tax returns or accounts sent out in the post!

Whilst not necessarily a green issue, whilst scanning paper files, the use of staples causes issues too, with paper jamming and potentially other more severe damage to the equipment too and is also strongly discouraged. Yet people still do it! It becomes time consuming to flick through files and remove staples, and inevitably some are missed.

Ban the stapler!

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