How Much Paper Gets Wasted In The UK Each Year?

In the UK, we use about 12.5 million tons of paper each year. The trees needed to produce this amount would cover about 21,000 square km – roughly the size of Wales. Comprising 20% of all waste in the UK, the amount of paper we throw away is substantial. If we recycled just 10% more paper each year, we’d save approximately 5 million trees. Given the scale of the issue in the UK it’s worth asking – who are the main offenders, and how can they reduce their paper waste? Let’s take a look. 

Offices 

Abandoned sheets in the photocopier, printed emails, and notebook scraps. Offices have long been known to be serial paper wasters. The average UK office worker uses approximately 10,000 sheets a year, and 75% of this ends up in the waste paper bin. Although sometimes it’s necessary to use paper – for example with legal and official documents – a lot of the time it’s not. A more considered use of paper in the office would do wonders to help reduce the UK’s overall paper wastage. 

How to reduce paper in the office 

  • Use cloud-based applications – It’s easier than ever to securely share information with colleagues and clients using the internet. Cloud-based applications provide an instant way to transfer information and often facilitate collaboration. Consider Google Docs for working on documents as a team, DropBox to share files, or Evernote to take notes during a meeting. Transferring common office functions like these to cloud-based applications will end up saving you reams of wasted paper. 
  • Be print aware – You can keep track of how much you’re printing by using print audit software and setting departmental printing budgets. Train staff on when to use the printer and perhaps incentivize limited use – a prize for the team that’s printed the least this month?
  • Invest in hardware –Consider doubling-up on computer monitors. Having two monitors reduces the need to print documents just for the sake of reference. 

Schools 

British schools churn through a lot of paper each year. Whether it’s down to exercise books, report cards, or papier-mache creations, schools account for masses of wasted paper. Each year, the average primary school student produces about 45kg of waste (split for the most part between food and paper waste), and each secondary school student is responsible for about 22kg. Even without considering the mounds of paper involved in school administration, this is a significant amount of rubbish. While a lot of tips for reducing office paper waste can be applied to schools, there are also some more specific actions that you can take. 

How to reduce school paper waste 

  • Paperless resources – Teachers can take advantage of resources that don’t involve paper. Integrating videos, music, or interactive games into a lesson makes it more engaging and avoids creating unnecessary waste. 
  • Email communications – Rather than sending out paper newsletters and reports, schools can simply share any information they want with parents and students by email. Not only does it reduce paper use, but they can actually track engagement with whoever they’re communicating with. 
  • Fewer exercise and textbooks –  We fully appreciate that not every school will have the funds to fully utilise tech in the classroom, but where possible, consider substituting exercise and textbooks with laptops and tablets. The tech provides a wealth of teaching opportunities whilst removing the need to throw out stacks of note-filled books every year. 

Hospitals 

Another area that contributes significantly to the UK’s paper waste is healthcare. The administrative burdens placed on health professionals in the NHS, for example, are often in the headlines. GPs want to spend more time diagnosing and treating patients, and less sifting through door-stop wedges of folders to find records. Added to this are paper prescriptions and a dizzying array of information leaflets, many of which are never actually read. The result of this flood of paper is not just a reduction in the efficiency of our health service, but an increase in costs – the NHS estimates that each trust spends on average between £500,000 – £1,000,000 a year on storing physical documents. To tackle this problem, in 2005 it launched the Paperless 2020 program – an initiative aimed at reducing the use of paper in the healthcare system through better use of technology. 

How to reduce hospital paper waste 

  • Digital medical records – With medical records stored on a secure server, health professionals can access and update across different hospitals and departments – leading to a faster, more efficient service. 
  • Digital prescriptions – Rather than distributing prescriptions in a paper slip, hospitals, and health centres would benefit from the use of digital prescriptions, sent via email or text. Whilst reducing paper waste, it could decrease the chances of dangerous prescription errors. 
  • Cloud-based administration – Various routine hospital tasks can be transferred to a cloud-based application. Ward inspections, for example, could benefit from the use of apps such as Perfect Ward – removing the need to fill out time-consuming paperwork. 

How to dispose of confidential documents 

Despite efforts to minimise paper waste, it’s almost impossible to completely eliminate the need for physical documents. This is especially true for documents that contain sensitive, confidential information – certificates, legal communications, and financial statements, for example. In order to safely dispose of these, the best option is to use the services of a licensed paper shredding company. 

At Flexible Storage, we offer a professional shredding service via our partner company. Working in full compliance with GDPR, we destroy sensitive documents securely and issue you with a certificate of destruction to prove it. 100% of the paperwork we dispose of is recycled – ideal for companies that want to ensure airtight data protection whilst remaining environmentally-conscious. 

We can also supply confidential waste disposal bins to ensure all sensitive paperwork is securely stored before disposal. These lockable consoles are perfect for any environment, from schools to hospitals to any corporate office. We’ll collect them on an agreed regular basis or whenever it’s almost full – just let us know and we’ll be there. As with our shredding service, all documents are recycled at UK paper mills with zero percent of our paper waste sent to landfill. For every tonne of paper waste recycled, approximately 17 trees are saved. Secure and sustainable paper disposal – what more could you want?

Get in touch with our team today for more information about our shredding services and even receive a quote. 

What are the costs involved in offsite document storage?

When it comes to the business benefits of offsite document storage, there’s no shortage of reasons to employ a professional storage facility. 

From space saving to streamlined organisation to guaranteed GDPR compliance, the majority of UK businesses could improve their working practices with the help of a certified document storage company.

However, document storage services aren’t free. And while they may result in massive savings in admin time and company resources, they still represent a cost to your business. 

So how much does document storage cost? 

The costs of offsite document storage will depend on several factors:

  •     The document storage company you choose
  •     The quantity of documents you wish to store
  •     How much access you’ll need to your documents while they’re in storage

Document storage costs will also depend on whether you require additional document management services, such as document scanning or destruction.

Document storage costs based on quantity

The vast majority of document storage companies charge by the box, which means the main factor determining your document storage costs will be the number of documents, and therefore boxes, that require storage.

While some companies will only charge for document storage on a yearly basis, most will quote for monthly storage. This gives organisations more flexibility, as they are not tied in to lengthy annual contracts, even though many documents are stored for a number of years.

Monthly storage costs can vary from as little as 20p to over £1 per box per month.

As with any business purchase, it’s never a bad idea to shop around and compare prices from a handful of prospective storage companies.

Document storage costs based on accessibility

While monthly rolling contracts are standard in the offsite document storage industry, most facilities will also give you the option of storing your files for a specified number of years if you will not need regular access to them.

This is commonly known as ‘deep storage’ or ‘archive storage’, and the minimal access means the price is significantly lower than other forms of document storage.

On the other hand, if you’re going to need regular access to your stored files, it’s going to be reflected in the storage costs.Needing all of your documents for tomorrow is obviously going to cost more than needing a few files next month. 

Many document storage companies offer document retrieval. This service allows you to retrieve one, some or all of your stored files from the storage facility.

This is typically done via phone call or email, but some storage facilities take care of everything via their online file management system. Your documents are barcoded, indexed and transported to the storage facility where they are securely stored. Throughout the whole process, you are able to trace, manage and retrieve all of your documents through an online system, all from the comfort of your own office.

This is the level of document storage service you can expect at Flexible Storage. Our online document management service is a FREE TO USE service, including all technical support. We offer you complete control of your stored documents, and retrieval couldn’t be easier – we can offer next day or emergency deliveries that can be with you in just a matter of hours, while our weekly deliveries are our most popular and most cost-effective service.

Choose the right offsite document storage company for your needs

Ultimately, choosing the right offsite document storage – not just the cheapest one – is really the key to ensuring you get the service you need.

Basing your decision solely on the lowest cost could put your confidential documents at risk if the storage facility, its staff or any other aspect of the document storage service is not up to scratch.

We know we said it earlier but it’s worth repeating – shop around, get as many quotes as you can and make sure you scrutinise each document storage prospect.

Does their service fulfil all of your document storage needs? What security does their facility have in place to protect your files? Are their staff fully trained and industry certified to handle sensitive data?

If they’re a storage facility worth their salt, all of this information relating to their service will be readily available on their website – just like it is with Flexible Storage’s document storage service.        

Get in touch with the Flexible Storage team today to receive a quote for your document storage needs.