Monday, July 5, 2010

Dentsu: Cutting down paper usage.

It's been a year now since we've implemented some sustainable practices in-house to walk the talk of advocating sustainability. We've:

1) Change our paper brand to one which supports sustainable forestry.
2) Started re-using print-outs (recycle usage)
3) When both sides are used, we recycle the paper

The results:

1) Although the initial cost of changing the paper brand was slightly higher, but in the long run we were able to offset the additional investment because we were re-using the print-outs.
2) Cost-saving in terms of less paper usage because less reams are purchased every month compared to before
3) Additional (although almost negligible) gaining from recycling our papers, nevertheless it's still a gain

I think the biggest question everyone has in their mind is: How do I know how much is optimum? I've been asking around but there doesn't seem to be an industry benchmark available as reference. In short, we really don't know if we've reached the optimum level. Of course, an environmentalist would argue that zero paper usage is the optimum level. But we know in our industry, that is not possible so we would argue otherwise. Print-outs have got its own significant usage, and sometimes paper usage is deemed necessary to facilitate official processes. These processes may provide us a higher value (in economic terms) than the by-product but like I say, only when it is deemed necessary.
A lot of times we click 'Print' carelessly without really thinking if it's absolutely necessary to have it printed. Which is why it is utmost important for us to support industry and effort benchmarking so that we can help one another to be more sustainable. Without reporting, we may be disillusioned. We may think we're doing well but continue to kid ourselves without knowing how far we are from the optimum usage. OR we could easily be barking up the wrong tree, wringing a dried towel where our efforts, resources and attention could have been diverted to another equally pressing issue.

In order to start the ball rolling, we at Dentsu Utama have started to calculate the cost of printing per head (this is most viable at the moment) and from there, average out the cost and monitor closely and counsel those who have exceeded the average cost per capita. This way, we're able to nip the problem in the bud without involving others who could already be doing well in using paper responsibly. I think another management issue which appears here (which also needs to be intricately considered) is staff motivation. A lot of times, when the management team decides to implement new policies to 'correct' an organisation or operational problem, they shoot a mandate officewide. This may address the troublemaker but at the same time, may also demotivate those who are not part of the problem. While many may think 'controlling paper usage' is a non-issue but trust me, anything which requires a change of habit is an issue.

We've just implemented this system and will continue to monitor. If you have an experience to share, please do. Like I mention before, we should all support reporting for benchmarking!

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