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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : July/August 2007 : Feature

The Greening of Corporate America
Small changes in small offices can make a big impact.

by Jim Rise

Considering the pace at which the environment is changing and the mounting scientific evidence showing man as a contributing factor, the phrase “Think globally, act locally” has never carried as much weight. People around the globe are realizing their obligation to contribute to the improvement of their surrounding environment.

Corporations, long in the sights of environmental groups, have a big role to play in this green push, and many are doing a great deal. However, large corporations are not alone. Small businesses, which comprise the largest and fastest-growing segment of the global economy, are also doing their part. Groups such as the Center for Small Business and the Environment have developed many environmental processes and programs such as the Green Gazelles project to raise awareness.

If you think a small business can’t make a big impact, think again. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, businesses with fewer than 500 employees represent 99.9 percent of all U.S. companies. Of the 25.8 million companies in America, just 17,000 are considered large. When a group this big takes similar actions individually, they collectively make a tremendous and swift impact.

While much progress has been made, much more needs to be accomplished around the globe to conserve energy and reduce waste, as well as improve efficiency and productivity. According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, a typical office generates about 1.5 pounds of wastepaper per employee each day, with the majority a result of single-side copying and printing. By simply selecting to print on both sides of a sheet of paper, businesses will conserve storage space and reduce handling costs, and eliminate up to 50 percent of their paper waste.

Another way to cut down on paper usage and increase productivity is to introduce workflow technologies through copier and printer devices. While capabilities vary by manufacturer, most sophisticated multifunction products (MFPs) come with workflow capabilities, including scan-to-network and scan-to-e-mail functions. These features allow workers to scan documents directly into their inboxes. As a result, paper usage and energy consumption is reduced, and worker productivity is increased. By simply changing the way they manage documents, workers can help the environment and use fewer energy resources.

Take a hard look at your current peripheral network. Documents are created, copied, printed, scanned and faxed on a daily basis. Many offices have a variety of individual machines to handle these tasks, each consuming thousands of kilowatts of energy per year. By replacing such stand-alone office products with a single multifunction system that copies, scans and prints, 700 kWh could be saved annually. By consolidating these products, you’re saving energy and increasing office space, which could result in savings on lease and service agreements. In fact, energy savings can double if the multifunction system replaces products that are not Energy Star qualified. Small steps really do make a difference. By incorporating procedures to reduce, reuse and recycle, offices of any size can help improve the health of the environment one step at a time.

Jim Rise is the vice president and general manager of the Solid Ink Products Business Unit for Xerox Corporation.

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