How large a carbon footprint does your paper billing system leave? It’s probably much larger than you realize.
Obviously, there is the actual paper itself — including invoices, checks and envelopes. But you also have to factor in:
- The resources required to send and receive paper-based payments — including postage stamps, petrol and even jet fuel.
- The bank slips, receipts and deposit notes that accompany each transaction.
- Follow-up mailings and reminders for late payments or incomplete transactions.
- Ink cartridges, printers, fax machines and copiers.
This list partially explains why paper billing is on the decline, as electronic invoicing becomes the standard. But how large is this resource commitment? After all, the above is just a list to help you conceptualize all that is involved.
Is there an accepted way to measure your paper-based carbon footprint more precisely?
Environmental Impact Calculators for Paper Billing
Unfortunately, very few tools out there are capable of measuring everything. But below are two free resources that can give you insights into the environmental impact of your company’s paper billing:
- PayItGreen – an environmental impact calculator developed by the National Automated Clearing House Association.
- Paper Calculator – developed by the Environmental Paper Network to help users assess the impact of switching between commonly used paper types.
Other Hidden Costs of Paper Billing
Continued reliance on paper carries a huge environmental toll, but there are other hidden costs of paper billing.
When you factor in the time (i.e. employee hours) required to create, send, and process each company invoice, it’s easy to understand why businesses spend an average of $4 to $20 per paper transaction.
Just to put that in perspective, a company with 10 employees could realize savings of up to $2,400 a year by ditching traditional payroll checks in favor of direct deposit.
Should You Abandon Paper Billing in Your Business?
Given the financial and environmental costs of paper billing, there are very compelling reasons to switch to electronic invoicing. Faster, greener and more secure, electronic invoicing allows your company to:
- Save valuable time and money (by using fewer materials and man-hours)
- Save the planet (by way of less resource consumption and waste)
However, it’s not always possible to abandon paper billing completely. If many of your customers still lack online connectivity, credit cards or smartphones, you risk alienating your client base if electronic invoicing is the only option available.
Fortunately, you don’t have to switch over immediately. Many businesses slowly phase out paper billing in stages and use their monthly savings to finance future overhauls of their payment operations.
Need help taking your billing system paperless? Use the free links below: