World Oceans Day: How Going Paperless Helps Reduce Paper Waste and Pollution in the Ocean

World Oceans Day

On Wednesday, June 5th, we celebrated World Environment Day. This is the day we remind ourselves about the damage we cause to our planet. It’s also meant to help us finally realize that it is critical to change our behavior.

A team of international researchers, spearheaded by Marcus Eriksen of the 5 Gyres Institute, located in Santa Monica, California, conducted a groundbreaking study covering the current state of pollution in the ocean. According to the study, 2.4 million metric tons of plastic particles have been steadily multiplying at a rate of doubling every six years.

To put it into perspective, that’s over 21,000 pieces of plastic for each of the Earth’s 8 billion inhabitants! While the majority of these pieces are minute in size, their collective impact on our planet is anything but small.

While ocean pollution discussions often focus on other sources, such as plastic waste, it would be a serious misconception to overlook the impact of paper waste on the marine ecosystem. Choosing to waste less paper by going digital ties in very well with this narrative.

We’ll cover all these points in this blog post, but in relation to another important day – World Oceans Day. It’s celebrated on June 8th and is a great push to the fact that together, we can protect and restore our oceans.

We also want to focus more on paper pollution. Because this specifically is what we can help to prevent.

So What’s Going On With Paper Ocean Pollution Today?

You may not even imagine how damaging paper is for the environment. All tree-based paper is ecologically damaging, and it’s hard to find the paper that does the least damage.

The newspapers and cardboard boxes that we throw into the recycling cans are mostly made from recycled paper. And with every reuse they are treated with chemicals and water to remove the inks and impurities.

The leftover sludge of ink, chemicals and water is either buried in a landfill or burned at the paper mill for energy.

Paper manufacturing requires huge quantities of water. That’s why paper mills are usually located near lakes and waterways.

According to MAPFRE, each ton of paper that we don’t use for printing saves about 20 trees, 7,000 kWh of electricity, and 5,000 liters of water.

Water discharged from the manufacturing process is high in organic matter. This leads to eutrophication. It’s when organic pollutants nourish phytoplankton, which then reproduce rapidly and consume so much oxygen that fish and other species die.

How Does It Affect Me?

According to the surveyed data we collected from our customers, using pdfFiller already saves at least 87.9 trees per month. When it comes to water, you can’t think about proper figures.

Instead of the figures, you can think about the quality of your life depending on your own behavior towards nature and the environment.

Ocean provides over 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe and over 97 percent of the world’s water supply. Ocean pollution does not only affects marine life and their environment, it also affects mankind.

Chemicals that are discharged from paper manufacturing can contaminate water supplies and our food chain by affecting the marine life involved. If humans are exposed to these toxic chemicals for long periods of time, then this can result in dangerous health problems, which include hormonal issues, reproductive issues, and damage to our nervous systems and kidneys.

Be a Part of a Change for the Better: Embrace Paperless Efficiency and Save Resources and Costs

According to The World Counts, 50% of all waste businesses produce is paper.

But t’s not even worth it.

Paper is robbing us of our productivity. The average employee runs more than 10,000 documents per year.

As of 2023, the average costs associated with physical paper are around 32 cents per document, with an additional cost of approximately $27 if the document needs to be sent elsewhere. However, there’s more to this story. When we factor in the cost of ink, toner, energy consumption, and the time spent searching for, manually filling out, and printing documents, the overall expenses increase significantly.

Now, here’s an interesting fact: depending on the method of signing, the average cost per document page can climb as high as $30. Quite substantial, isn’t it? But hold on, there’s even more to consider. These figures do not take into account any expenses associated with replacing documents, rectifying errors, or the various challenges that may arise during the signing process. These aspects are known to be the most costly elements in any signing transaction.

Being aware of these expenses can prove invaluable when it comes to managing paperwork and signing agreements. By understanding the true costs involved, you can make informed decisions and ensure better financial planning.

Other concerns associated with paper-based workflows

Data security is a paramount concern when it comes to paper-based workflows: approximately 15% of all business documents end up getting lost, resulting in a significant amount of time, effort, and resources being devoted to recreating them.

On average, an employee spends up to 40 hours per year searching for lost documents, which is equivalent to nearly a full workweek. When we calculate this based on the national average hourly wage of $27 (Trading Economics, 2022), it amounts to an actual cost of over $1,080 per employee annually.

These statistics highlight the tangible impact that lost documents can have on both productivity and financial resources. By adopting more streamlined and secure digital workflows, organizations can mitigate these risks and allocate their valuable time and funds more effectively.

Read our step-by-step guide to a total paperless transition to enhance your business with digital tools and become an integral part of humanity that is changing the world for the better.

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Celebrate World Oceans Day the right way — embrace PDF documents and efficient electronic workflows.


Originally published in June 2019, updated in May 2023 for accuracy and comprehensiveness