Paper consumption of European companies

While in Part 1 of our mini-series "Sustainability through Legal Tech" we focused on the potential of legal tech to achieve economic sustainability goals, Parts 2 and 3 will focus on ecological goals. Again, we will see that the two goals are ultimately inextricably linked after all. In Part 2, we look at the paper consumption of European companies and the potential for savings.

The still low acceptance of digital processes among European companies leads to enormous paper consumption. According to a study by Viadesk, the annual paper consumption per employee is around 28 kilograms. For executives, the figure is as high as 43.9 kilograms.[1] The average paper consumption is thus 29.1 kilograms, or around 5,800 pages of paper per capita per year.

Applying the average to all 1.7 million SMEs and their 53.7 million employees in the EU (excluding microenterprises, 32 employees on average), paper consumption was 1.56 million tons or about 312 million pages. Stacking the paper creates a tower 46,700 km high. This would allow the paper to be placed more than once around the earth.

Although recycled paper accounts for 50% of the materials used to produce this amount of paper, the environmental impact is still incredibly high. More than 2.9 million trees are needed[2], which is roughly the size of 10,250 soccer fields, the energy used could supply nearly 6.8 million individual households with electricity for a year, and the water consumption is equivalent to the annual consumption of about 1.4 million people. In addition, the production process releases 1.6 million tons of CO2, equivalent to 400,000 flights between Frankfurt and New York - there and back.[3] 320,000 trees would be needed to offset the emissions.

Based on our experience with our customers, we have been able to estimate that paper consumption can be reduced by 50% by using PACTA. The sustainable digital workflow means that printing can be eliminated in many cases.

The discussion and negotiation of legal documents takes place in our digital negotiation room. Afterwards, documents can be signed paperless in PACTA and stored directly in document management. Our cloud servers are powered by 100% renewable energy and are carbon neutral. This saves each of our customers thousands of euros and also makes an important contribution to sustainable resource consumption in the industry.

In the third and final part of our mini-series, we look at the CO2 emissions of mailing and business travel.