Paper production and consumption is one of the most resource and energy‐intensive industrial processes in the worldwide economy. 40% of the world’s commercially cut timber is used for producing paper (EPA, 2015) and a single tree that may grow for up to thirty years, produces only around two cartons (or 10,000 sheets) of copier paper (Conservatree, 2018; Thomson, 1992). The production of a tonne of paper produces 2600 kg of greenhouse gases and requires around 11000 kWH of energy (Miller, 2005). This is the equivalent of 6 months of car exhaust fumes and is the same amount of energy required by an average household over a 10 month period. Given these environmental costs, it is important that paper use is reduced as much as possible across the board. Businesses have a particular responsibility to reduce paper use because a staggering 50% of business waste is currently paper‐based (Workmobile, 2017).
Paper waste, like all waste, can be minimised through reducing, re‐using and recycling. Reducing paper use is the most important of these three processes because re‐use of paper is likely to have only a limited impact and because recycling paper, while important, is itself a water and energy‐intensive process (Grieg‐Gran et al., 1997). Businesses aiming to demonstrate corporate responsibility could therefore go a long way towards this by introducing policies that reduce their paper‐use.
With the rise in ethically and environmentally conscious clients, businesses need to seek alternative and more sustainable ways of conducting their business. There are high tax levies on producing waste, with the focus on reduce, reuse and recycling. All corporations need to declare these data and an integrated paperless construction app that removes the vast majority of paper from construction sites, would significantly aid in reducing paper waste.