Have you even thought of how much paper we use every day?

According to the data from Assocarta, in Italy 9,8 million tons of paper have been produced and a total of 10.6 million tons have been consumed in 2019. Italians consume 200 kg pro-capita per year, equivalent to 80 stacks of A4 paper sheets. A family of 4 people consumes, in terms of paper, the equivalent of 2 trees per year.  And remember, beyond trees, the paper needs water to arrive on our desks. To produce a ton of white paper, 440,000 liters of water are needed. So, using less paper automatically means not wasting trees and water. Traditional document management, characterized by a high weight of the paper document and mainly manual management processes, presents a series of costs and inefficiencies in every phase of the ideal life cycle of a document:

  •  acquisition or printing of the document;
  •  distribution;
  •  archiving.

Each year in Italy 115 billion pages are printed, 19,5 billion of which are not actually used, and create a cost of 287 million euros per year. Anyway, during the last year, our habits have strongly been modified, changing not only our working place but also our daily activities, increasing our online and digital communications but also reducing our use of printed paper. Considering these data, we decided to use our office transfer as an occasion to make some active actions to reduce the paper use in our company and to increase the digitalization of our processes, with the following goals:

  • Create a greener company, reducing the cost of paper acquired and our environmental impact;
  • Fasten our processes, reducing the back-office managing time and reducing the document lead times from one office to the other or, in our case, working with international companies, from our country to the other;
  • Create a smarter company, simplifying our workflow and improving its efficiency.

Lo.Li. Pharma International situation

As a first step, it was extremely important to understand how much paper we used for our daily activities and how much paper was present in our offices. For this reason, we decided to make an inventory of all the processes that was managed using paper and all the paper stored in our offices. According to our analysis, we found out that up to now our company indicatively used around 40 kg of paper each year. We then evaluated the quantity of paper that we needed to dispose of before our transfer. Based on the number of stored documents that could be disposed of and based on the number of ring binders present in our office, we estimated disposal of 150 kg of paper during our recent transfer. We then analyzed the collected data and the impact of the eventual digitalization activities on costs, space, and time management. So, it was extremely important to define how and in what percentage these processes, and activities, could be digitalized. What are the instruments used to increment digitalization?

  • The legal electronic signature of our General Manager to be used for the signature of legal documents.
  • Secondly, all our managers were provided with tablets for electronic signature, in order to approve internal documents in a paperless way.
  • Use of a shared folder between our secretary and our General Manager for documents to be signed and documents already signed, reducing the moving of paper from one office to the other and allowing our GM to sign documents also when not physically present in the office.
  • The preparation of an operating instruction for the management of document signature activities, in order to give clear indications on the steps to follow for signature and archival of the documents, specifying also which documents should be kept in original and which not.
  • A sensitization campaign to reduce paper printing and paper used in the company.

According to our evaluation, the internal process can be entirely digitalized, without any need to keep the paper archives in our office. On the other hand, for external documents, such as documents released from authorities or agreements signed, we are not able to eliminate paper entirely, neither in the new activities, for which some activities needed to be kept in paper, or for the old activities, for which the old paper documents must be kept in original according to law indications. Anyway, also, in this case, we can make some improvements to reduce paper use also for this type of documents. In the end, according to the data we analyzed, we found out that we can obtain a 55% of digitalization of our entire processes.  We also found out that the departments that need to use more paper, such as the Legal Department and Quality and Regulatory Department, due to the characteristics of the activities they perform, are the ones on which digitalization processes can have a higher impact and are, at the same times, the departments that can increase the acceleration of our business activities when reducing waiting times. In conclusion, these digitalization activities are expected to lead us to a reduction of the 75% of paper used in our company and, when our partners have the possibility to sign documents electronically, in an 85% average time reduction needed to sign legal documents (such as NDAs, Agreements, etc.). We are going to keep the following parameters monitored during the year to understand if our preliminary expectations are confirmed or if any additional implementation is needed:

  • Quantity of agreements signed in original versus in digital form.
  • Quantity of registration documents signed in original versus in digital form.
  • Cost and quantity of shipments of original documents.
  • Quality of folders kept for each department.
  • Quantity of paper used and the related printing costs.

Good Loli Green Practices – everyday tips to reduce the use of paper

  • Reduce printing

If possible read documents on the computer deciding to print them only if strictly necessary. Furthermore, sensitize others to the problem of paper waste and the correct use of paper and printing.

  • Check Correctness

If printing is necessary, organize the layout of the document to take up as little space as possible. Before printing carefully check the correctness of the document to avoid printing old versions or incorrect documents.

  • Print on both sides and in black and white

If printing is necessary, print from both sides of the page to reduce by 50% the quantity of paper used. Print documents in black and white, in order to reduce the quantity of ink used.

  • Reduce the accumulation of paper

Do not fill your desk with paper, accumulation leads to more accumulation

  • Make the must of paper used

Use the free page of printed paper to take notes, making the most of it. Use only one notebook at a time to take notes and use all the space available.

  • Differentiate

Reduce the number of paper newsletters or paper magazines received in the office and, when possible, reuse them. Use separate bins for paper and for other materials carefully and differentiate correctly.

We are enthusiastic to give our small contribution to a great goal and to support paper reduction, helping to preserve the environment. We invite all of you to do the same!