Businesses could save millions of pounds by preventing their workers from printing 120 billion pages unnecessarily...
each year, according to sustainable business consultants Envirowise.
Government-funded Envirowise estimates that the real cost of waste could be five to 10 times the amount a business spends on disposing of it.
The company said 4.7 million tonnes of paper and board were entering the UK's waste stream each year, out of a total of 12.5 million tonnes of paper and board being used.
"Unnecessary printing of emails, multiple copies, single-sided printing and sending massive documents to the printer that are unlikely to be read, are just some of the regular scenarios lived out by businesses every day as a result of 'accidental printing'," says Mary Leonard, a director at Envirowise.
The organisation said businesses could reduce waste costs by about 20% through actions such as using double-sided or multiple-page printing and recycling instead of paying for disposal.
Envirowise has produced a Green Officiency Toolkit to help businesses reduce the amount of paper wasted.
The company lists the profiles of major paper wasters as:
The Pointless Printer - prints everything just because they like to have a hard copy of all documents, even emails.
The Competitive Printer - the bigger the pile of what they see as "crucial" documents, the more important they think they look.
The 'Old School' Printer - feels they can't possibly comment on an email request without printing it off to read it, and thinks it is impossible to edit documents by looking at them on screen can only do so by printing off and writing amendments on the paper copy.
The Hasty Printer - presses the 'P' button before checking quantity or length of document, seeing 20 copies of a 200-page document come out of the printer in the middle of the office while they stand and roll their eyes at it, as if it's the printer's fault.
The Sneaky Printer - acutely aware they are over-printing but can't live without their paper. Makes pre- and post-work dashes to the printer to grab copious amounts of what is possibly personal printing before anyone sees them.
The Pedestal Printer - double-sided, recycled paper. Only prints what is essential and likes to share their documents with the rest of their team.