Loyola University Maryland

Paperless University

Facts & Resources

Paper Usage Facts

  • The average office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of paper per year (US EPA).
  • Office workers in the US generate approximately two pounds of paper every day (US EPA).
  • 210 billion sheets of paper are consumed by faxing in US companies every year (US EPA).
  • Each year enough paper is thrown away to make a 12’ wall from New York to California (University of Colorado).
  • It takes 1 15-year-old tree to produce ½ a box of paper (Midpoint International).
  • One tree filters up to 60 pounds of pollutants from the air each year (Trash to Cash).

                                                    Cluttered Desk

Paperless Office Defined

A paperless office is a work environment in which the use of paper is eliminated or greatly reduced. This is done by converting documents and other papers into digital form. Proponents claim that "going paperless" can save money, boost productivity, save space, make documentation and information sharing easier, keep personal information more secure, and help the environment. The concept can also be extended to communications outside the office.

Traditional offices have paper-based filing systems, which may include filing cabinets, folders, shelves, microfiche systems, and drawing cabinets, all of which require maintenance, equipment, considerable space, and are resource-intensive. In contrast, a paperless office could simply have a desk, chair, and computer (with a modest amount of local or network storage), and all of the information would be stored in digital form. Speech recognition and speech synthesis could also be used to facilitate the storage of information digitally.

Once computer data is printed on paper, it becomes out-of-sync with computer database updates. Paper is difficult to search and arrange in multiple sort arrangements, and similar paper data stored in multiple locations is often difficult and costly to track and update. A paperless office would have a single-source collection point for distributed database updates, and a publish-subscribe system.

Modern computer screens make reading less exhausting for the eyes; a laptop computer can be used on a couch or in bed. With tablet computers and smartphones, with many other low-cost value-added features like video animation, video clips, and full-length movies, many argue that paper is now obsolete to all but those who are resistant to technological change. eBooks are often free or low cost compared to hard-copy books. 


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