In a world rapidly transformed by digital communications, “old fashioned” paper still continues its trail from tree to office to recycled content “new” paper. At the MPCA, we still use paper: forms, reports, copies, draft permits, archived records, but with decreasing frequency whenever possible.
MPCA staff are committed to a sustainable future that includes using less paper. Consider:
- The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper annually; the average MPCA staffer uses only 3,100.
- Creative agency staff converted internal purchasing forms, timesheets, leave and data requests, and work orders to electronic versions. One notable example: By automating the water monitoring site inspection process, we not only saved 400 hours of staff time but 3,000 sheets of paper, too.
- Our external communications and a well-designed web site allow users to download fact sheets, reports, permit applications and technical guidance that used to be mailed. (Fewer people now request printed copies.)
- By switching to more efficient, multi-function printers, and phasing out laser printers, we are on track to reduce “orphaned” (printed but never retrieved) copies by 95%, equal to 120 cartons of paper.
- And, when the state of Minnesota mandated all public entities use a minimum of 30% recycled content copy paper, the MPCA had already committed to using 100% recycled content copy paper and reduced use per employee by 50% from 2009 to 2017. Reduced paper use more than makes up for the small price differences between 100% and 30% content.
Despite our best efforts, not everyone has the same awareness. In the U.S., companies spend $120 billion annually on printed forms that are often outdated within three months. The average document is copied 9 to 11 times! More than 70% of businesses would fail within three weeks if they suffered a loss of paper records due to fire or flood. Paper thrown away now represents 25% of landfill waste.
What can you do?
- Recycle all paper waste.
- Follow the agency’s lead and buy only 100% recycled paper.
- Think before you print and print only the pages you need. (Double-sided, of course.)
- Use the handout version when printing PowerPoint presentations.
- Store files electronically.
- Reduce your paper clutter and you’ll reduce your filing stress, too.
- Reuse it by making scratch pads from one-sided copies. Did you know this small step will reduce paper waste by 50%?
Bottom line: The MPCA is not using less paper because we have fewer staff. It’s because we’re more careful with our natural resources and respect taxpayers’ investments in efficient state government.