The claim that going paperless saves trees is misleading [OPINION]

January 27, 2012  |  Electronic Invoicing, Publications, Research

One of the promoted benefits of e-invoicing is that it takes less paper. Some might even say that it saves trees. And there lies a problem. The problem is that the claim that going paperless, saves trees is misleading.

That is, according to the representatives of the paper industry: TwoSides. So what is their argument? This is:

“The message that “going paperless saves trees” is misleading because it links paper to deforestation, i.e. the permanent removal of forest. In the United States, however, the paper industry encourages and depends on sustainable forest management practices that regenerate billions of trees annually.”

They are right you know!

In fact, they are right. The paper industry does need sustainable forest management to survive. Even with recycling of old paper, they still need trees for proper paper production. And they actually succeeded in maintaining and boosting sustainability, because:

Now, who would be willing to claim that these achievements were possible because of the uptake of e-invoicing?

How green is your solution?

There are several types of green approaches:

  • Brown disguised as green
    - You send your customers digital images or PDF documents that can’t be copied from.
    - Your customers have to print it and manually enter the data in their financial software.
    - You fine them if they don’t swallow the consequences of your changed behaviour
    - RESULT: unhappy customers
  • Glaring green
    - You send them e-invoices in a digital format that allows them to copy the contents
    - You fine them if they don’t swallow the consequences of your changed behaviour
    - RESULT: not so happy customers
  • Green
    - You send them e-invoices in structured format: UBL or in a similar data format
    - They can get the invoices, after logging in on an online portal
    - RESULT: indifferent customers
  • Bright happy green:
    - You have a self service portal where customers can enter their preferences
    - You send them e-invoices in the preferred data format.
    - You also send them the invoice in a WYSIWIG format
    - RESULT: jackpot: recurring customers that experience fast savings too.

So next time your here someone speak of going green, try to figure out what shade of green it actually is. Because the consequences can be huge.


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