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For many workplaces, paper represents the largest waste stream. Try some of these suggestions to reduce how much paper your organization generates:

  • Print and copy double-sided to reduce paper waste. When purchasing printers and copiers, be sure to purchase equipment that can print double sided, and them to default to duplexing, when you can. This can also cut down on the amount of paper your office needs to purchase. Use our measurement tools to calculate the waste prevention benefits and cost savings resulting from this practice.
    • It's the law for NYC Agencies to follow all of these paper reduction guidelines:
      • Any document, graphic material, or solicitation printed by an agency or for an agency must be printed double-sided where practicable.
      • Printers or copiers purchased or leased by an agency must be able to print double sided (with the exception of those copiers or printers which print or copy at less than 20 pages per minute)
      • Any printer or copier must be set to default to double-sided printing.
  • Communicate electronically rather than with paper memos or reports. Email documents and post announcements, forms, and reports on an internal website rather than printing and circulating hard copies. Avoid printing out emails or reports sent to you electronically.
  • Use electronic internal telephone directories instead of printed ones. Replacing printed internal directories with electronic versions prevents waste by eliminating the annual disposal of out-of-date books. Use our electronic directory measurement tool to calculate the cost savings from switching to online directories.
  • Avoid excess printing. Print forms on demand to eliminate the need and cost to print and store large quantities of pre-printed forms that may become outdated and require disposal. When printing informational documents, avoid adding information that will limit the documents’ use, such as the name, date, or location of the event for which it was initially printed. For software to help reduce excess printing, see products and services.
  • Reduce incoming junk mail. Visit the National Waste Prevention Coalition’s Business Junk Mail Prevention Project to learn how companies around the country have reduced employee sorting time and waste disposal costs by reducing the amount of incoming junk mail. For more information, see helpful links about waste prevention.
  • Update your mailing lists regularly to save paper, printing, labor, and postage costs, and to prevent waste.
  • Minimize duplicate subscriptions. Survey staff to determine which magazines, newspapers, and catalogs they receive, and identify duplicates and unwanted subscriptions. Contact publishers and vendors to ensure that only one copy of each publication is delivered to your location.
  • Share publications. Use routing slips to circulate reports, memos, magazines, and other documents, so that only one copy is required. Establish a central location for magazines, catalogs, newspapers, newsletters, and other publications, so that everyone in the office can read them.
  • Read newspapers online. Most of the major papers are available on the internet.
  • Proofread documents on screen before printing. Check the printed document for errors before making multiple copies.
  • Use Print Preview before printing to make sure the layout and margins are correct.
  • On websites, use the Print Page function. The print page function on webpages auto-fits the screen image to a printable size so that excess paper is not wasted.
  • Eliminate fax cover pages. Put all relevant information on the first page of the fax.
  • Reuse large envelopes, file folders, and boxes instead of purchasing new ones.
  • Reuse the backside of single-sided documents for drafts, intra office memos, incoming faxes, notes, phone messages, and other in-house tasks.
  • Reduce the number of telephone books ordered each year. The telephone company sends a set of telephone books (your borough’s white and yellow pages) per telephone line, unless you or a designated representative of your facility requests a reduced number of books. To prevent waste, only request the number of directories you actually need.
  • Make sure to recycle paper. For more information on recycling requirements and how to order decals, posters, and flyers, go to recycling.
  • Buy recycled paper and specify recycled paper for all outside print jobs.
    • It's the law for NYC Agencies to use paper with the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content price preferences allow. Based on the standard set by the federal government, New York City has established a standard of 30 percent post-consumer recycled content for purchases of printing and writing paper. Learn more about buying products with recycled content with environmentally preferable purchasing. To find out where to buy recycled paper products, see products and services.

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