Friday, July 25, 2008

Businesses saving paper, trees and money

Saving paper = Saving trees = Saving money. This equation is maybe one of the clearest examples of how going green will benefit not only the environment, but also your bottom line. More and more businesses understand this equation and try to act accordingly. This week I was happy to read about two more examples:

1. Environmental Leader reported earlier this week that the leading UK food retailer
Sainsbury’s has won the European Retail Solutions Best Green IT Initiative Award 2008 for using simultaneous two-sided thermal receipt printers from NCR Corporation in its store checkouts.

Here are more details from
NCR news release:

Last year Sainsbury’s became the first European retailer to start using the new printers, which use over 40 percent less paper.
Printing on both sides of the receipt simultaneously not only saves paper, but also the energy associated with producing and transporting it. Fewer stoppages are required for paper roll changes. Further, because receipts are shorter, they take less time to print, which means consumers get through checkouts even faster and leave with a more manageable receipt.

Sainsbury’s has received such a positive response from customers and staff that it has more than doubled its order for the new printers from NCR. By the end of 2008, consumers will be receiving the two-sided receipts from 7,000 checkouts in approximately half of Sainsbury’s 823 stores nationwide. This will result in a savings of 502,000 paper rolls per year – cutting receipt paper usage at the retailer by around two-fifths.

The NCR two-sided printer consumes less power than other well known, single-sided receipt printer brands. Sainsbury’s plans to install the printers in the rest of its stores over the next two years. This will play a role in helping the retailer achieve its new target to reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2012.

Kudos to Sainsbury’s for this initiative. I think that receipts are pretty wasteful - you receive a piece of paper, which many times you don't really need and you don't keep. This is especially true in supermarkets, where you may only look for few seconds in the receipt after completing your purchase and then you'll probably throw it away (hopefully to a recycling bin..).

Maybe the next step can be to provide people with incentive not to print a receipt at all, by giving them 5 cents or 10 cents discount, just like many supermarkets do to encourage the usage of reusable bags. I'm sure such an incentive will save A LOT of paper rolls. I hope someone at Sainsbury's or any other big retailer will give it a shot.

2. Our friend, author Michael Kleiner, updated us with the ongoing effort of Citibank to encourage customers switch to paperless electronic statements. The bank provide its customers with a great incentive: "enroll in Paperless Statements today and Citi will plant a tree on your behalf."

And it works. Citi reports that it has planted 1 million trees with the Arbor Day Foundation so far! In this case it's a win-win-win deal as I'm sure most customers find it less annoying to view their statement online than receiving it by mail (at least I do..). It's true that this way you use the computer and consume more energy to read your statement, but still my guestimation is that it's more eco-friendly to read the statement online.

Citi is not the only bank encouraging its customers to go paperless. Washington Mutual, for example, has a similar initiative. More banks realize that paperless statements are good for business, and not only because they save costs, but also because customers appreciate such initiatives and it also generates value to the bank's reputation. So it's definitely a natural step to any bank that wants to enjoy both reduction in costs and happy customers, not to mention the many happy trees it helps to keep alive :-)

Hope to hear more good news like these ones every week!

Raz @ Eco-Libris