Blog

Go paperless: choose iPaaS-based EDI for environmental sustainability

Embrace the digital office and enjoy all the benefits that will follow. Going paperless has a long-lasting and positive effect on the environment, while being good for your company’s profitability and productivity. Ditch the paperwork with EDI.

Date 06/04/2022

Author Omnizon

Paperwork. A consumer of time and money. This word inevitably evokes feelings of dread we all experience when dealing with these boring tasks. No one likes paperwork. But paperwork is not only tedious – it is detrimental to both the environment and to your business.

What if you could get rid of paperwork for good? All the while saving time, saving money, saving the environment, attracting new clients and streamlining your operations? Read on to find out how.

 

Stop unnecessary paper usage and avoidable waste

It is a fact that we use enormous amounts of paper, and all that paper comes from somewhere and needs to end up somewhere after it has been used. There are approximately 10,000 sheets of paper in an average-sized tree, so a ream of paper (500 sheets) consumes around 5% of a tree. Higher quality paper and coloured paper uses significantly more pulp. Now, 5% may not seem that much, but when you think about all the reams of paper in all the companies in the world… That’s a lot of paper. The production of one tonne of paper requires 24,400 liters of water… Water that could have been used for drinking.

You may think, ‘but I don’t use that much paper, why would I be responsible for others?’ That is true. However, you do need to store all that paper somewhere, you need to have people who handle the paper, and in the end, you will need to dispose of that paper.

How many millions of invoices and purchase orders have been unnecessarily printed, only to end up thrown away within minutes of being received? That is a huge amount of avoidable paper waste, not to mention the costs involved in transporting, collecting, or in some cases even recycling the paper. You know the saying: that meeting could have been an email? Well, that invoice could have been an email, too.

 

How much paper do we consume?

Even though the production of paper is in decline, its cost on our environment is still staggeringly high. It takes 17-24 trees to produce one tonne of paper, and in 2020 alone we produced about 97 million tonnes of graphic paper worldwide. That tallies up to 2,3 billion trees a year!

Moreover, traditional thermal generation of electricity demands huge quantities of what would otherwise be drinkable water. And we all know that we could use every drop of water that can be saved.

 

How to reduce energy consumption?

Making the transition from a traditional paper-based business to a digitally-based business is a huge step towards environmental sustainability that we should all strive for.

The results of a study by 451 Research show that AWS’s infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy-efficient than the median of U.S. enterprise data centers surveyed. AWS data centers are more energy-efficient than enterprise sites due to comprehensive efficiency programs that touch every facet of the facility. That means that by running your EDI operations on a cloud infrastructure, you can make significant sustainability gains by benefiting from the efficiencies of scale that these huge providers bring. AWS, for example, is the largest purchaser of renewable energy on Earth and has stated its aim to be running on 100% renewable energy by 2025.

No matter how big or small your business is, you can make a difference by moving towards more sustainable business operations through the implementation of digital sustainability.

 

EDI and sustainability in the supply chain

Do you have a sustainability agenda? Is it part of your organization’s annual reporting or advertising? Does the challenge of living up to your green ambitions matter to you? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you will have reviewed all areas of your operations – property management, energy consumption, sustainable sourcing, transport and travel and so on. It is fair to assume that one of the areas where most improvements could be made is probably your supply chain.

Fully implementing an EDI strategy is one of the quickest and most comprehensive ways of improving your sustainability profile. An EDI environment will enable you to reap the environmental benefits of minimizing your use of paper and ink, which will consequently reduce the carbon footprint you may currently be generating by transporting and disposing of tonnes of printed paper.

The increased speed and accuracy of processes that EDI brings will also have a positive impact on your carbon footprint and environmental costs.

 

More reasons to go paperless

If you are still not convinced, have a look at some other great reasons to begin your paperless transformation.

 

Reduced risk of losing documents due to human error or natural disasters

All businesses inevitably have to deal with some degree of human error, no matter how diligent their employees are. One extra number, one misspelled name, a package lost by the courier service. Or, in the worst-case scenario, the premises catch fire and your documents are destroyed. With EDI in your supply chain, you won’t have to worry about any of this.

 

Reduced lead time

How much time does it take to manually place an order, print and send it to the vendor, then for the vendor to enter the data into the sales order system, print the invoice and enclose it with the shipment or send it separately by mail? EDI can automatically perform these tasks and complete the process in a fraction of the time.

 

Lower documentation processing cost

Paper, ink, printers, delivery, premises, waste management and people all cost money. Money that can be spent more productively.

 

More customers

Many customers today expect a serious commitment to environmental sustainability from their suppliers and will take their business elsewhere if they feel that you are not playing your part. In addition, a digital EDI environment provides your customers with instant and transparent information regarding their transactions, which will provide them added reassurance and may help secure their loyalty.

 

Strengthened strategic alliances throughout the supply chain

Reducing system costs and cycle time, timely communication and efficient use of resources and facilities all contribute to forming trusted, reliable partnerships throughout the supply chain. And all the research shows that these are the kind of partnerships that last longest.

 

Importance of a sustainable supply chain

Environmental sustainability has become ingrained in our lives, and digital sustainability is part of it. In order to make a comprehensive positive change, we need to start from the bottom – at the very first link of the supply chain. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) provide a set of guidelines for countries to follow when designing and implementing the new regulations at the national level, and the EU is working on proposals for pan-European legislation.

While some countries are still in the initial stages of planning, others are leading the way. In Germany, for example, the new Supply Chain Due Diligence Act places responsibilities on companies with 3000+ employees as of 1/1/2023, and by 2024 it will include all companies with 1000+ employees. Companies will have to ensure that neither they nor any of their suppliers are contravening any human rights or environmental legislation, and those who continually fail to check will face fines and reputational damage. This added workload of checking and proving compliance can be greatly facilitated with an automated EDI in supply chain management. Germany is on the road to enacting this legislation, and the EU is close behind, planning similar regulations that will dovetail into the German legal code. All this will greatly affect any companies that have not deployed EDI when they wish to buy from, or sell into, the EU trading zone.

If you are working for a USA-based company or somewhere else outside of Europe and you have questions about how this new legislation will impact your trading relationships with your EU partners and what exactly your responsibilities will be in abiding by these new rules, our team is always available to answer your questions, help resolve your uncertainties and help you ensure that you are fully compliant and your business is not disrupted.

 

How to make the supply chain more sustainable

Successful EDI deployment is the first step towards a sustainability transformation. You can address multiple goals at the same time, and cutting down on paper is just one of them.

Your EDI solution can also help you:

 

Reduce waste

Produce just as much as you need. With EDI predictive analytics, you can avoid overproduction and unnecessary waste.

 

Decrease consumption

Better organization means less space needed in warehouses and increased productivity achieved by directing the resources into other, more profitable operations.

 

Analyze your suppliers

Why work with underperforming suppliers when you can quickly identify and focus on more reliable partners and greatly reduce unnecessary delays.

 

Consolidate shipments

Intelligently choosing transportation routes in real time, avoiding congestion and efficiently combining different shipments all contribute to preserving valuable resources.

 

How do I go paperless?

Okay, you have decided to go paperless and to make a positive impact on the environment and your business. The good news is – you don’t have to do it alone. We are here to support you every step of the way and guide you through the transformation.

Finally, here is a measurable impact that going paperless has on the environment: we said that for every 10,000 sheets of paper, one entire tree can be saved. In the period from 2019 to 2021, a client of ours processed a total of 25 million files. This means that a single user of our platform has managed to save at least 2,500 trees in just three years!

Leave it to the experts and let us prove that Omnizon is your best choice for environmental sustainability.