Sustainable invoicing: Why it's vital for the office of the future

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E-invoicing has many benefits for both suppliers and buyers - it’s also environmentally friendly. As businesses across the world commit to improved sustainability pledges following discussions around environmental concerns at COP26, this article focuses on how E-invoicing is replacing paper invoicing for the better, ensuring that the offices of today continue to evolve for a sustainable future.

E-invoicing: an innovative solution

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” - Henry Ford

Picture the outdated accounting department of the 90s - stacks of invoices piled on desks, the printer whirring continuously, huge filing cabinets at bursting point, and some poor assistant bored to tears by the scanner.

If we asked the workers in this office what they wanted to change, what would improve the problems within the dept, what might they say?

“A bigger filing cabinet”, “a more efficient printer/scanner” or “a new assistant” (ouch!).

I think it’s unlikely that anyone would have the foresight to suggest sending all invoices electronically and processing without printing or scanning – just like Henry Ford and the car, the idea was beyond the imagination of most ordinary people.

But fast forward to today's world, and this isn’t just about making processes easier for workers anymore... 

E-invoicing = Eco-friendly: Paper invoicing damages the environment

E-invoicing can help with the environment but isn’t going to get rid of paper from a business entirely – but it can certainly help. The overall environmental impact of practices such as 100% paper invoicing and paper purchase orders have rendered them unsustainable.

Sustainable invoicing through E-invoicing and e-documents are an innovative solution to the paper problem - the problem being that the consumption of the product is so great, that the environment is suffering. But what is the environmental impact?

One tree is estimated to produce around 8,500 pieces of paper.**

It’s been estimated that paper consumption per office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year, with a higher figure likely for accounting and finance industries.*

6,800 of the 10,000 sheets used are wasted, and every person in the UK consumes the equivalent of 4.48 trees per year.* 

Trees are a renewable resource so we don’t risk exhausting the supply, yet when you consider that 50% of printed documents are only read once or never read at all, it seems unnecessary to displace any further wildlife by building new ‘tree farms’, or sourcing 9% of the wood used for paper in mature, irreplaceable forests.

For those still in favor of paper invoicing, it may be worth mentioning that recycling paper isn’t as efficient as some may believe. Paper sludge (a by-product of the paper recycling process) is full of harmful toxins and its final resting place is usually within landfill… not great. 


What are the advantages of sustainable invoicing?

Paper invoices produce three times more CO2 than e-invoices, making e-invoicing one of the easiest ways for companies to improve sustainable business efforts.**

The latest Billentis report estimated that there are nearly 550 billion invoices globally, with this number set to quadruple in 2035. While the number of businesses moving towards digitalizing their invoicing process has increased substantially over the last two years, massive amounts of paper are still being printed. In addition to this, sending invoices across the globe means the negative impact hits both trees and CO2 emissions.**

Billentis also reported that compared to conventional paper invoice processing, more sustainable invoicing like automated e-invoicing will result in cost savings of 60-80%. E-invoicing provides insights to your management team for cutting costs and increasing margins that aren't possible with paper-heavy invoicing. The advantages clearly add up to high ROI, long-term savings and more efficient internal operations.**


E-invoicing: let's ensure there is an office of the future

E-invoicing and electronic documents won’t save the world from the many environmental challenges ahead. Yet when you consider the number of businesses around the globe it’s obvious that cutting down on paper will make a difference.

An E-invoice solution will remove at least 80% of paper from most accounting departments, so if every office adopted the technology we’d make an impact. E-invoicing speeds up the process by which outstanding balances can be paid by eliminating postage, which is often costly and produces further wastage.  

The benefits of e-invoicing aren’t limited to the environment, there are a number of financial and time-saving incentives. However, it is the responsibility of each business to consider the size of their carbon footprint and whether they contribute towards environmental damage - and sustainable invoicing is one way to contribute.

E-invoicing supports environmental wellbeing and will help preserve the world in years to come, by removing paper it reduces harmful waste and promotes an eco-friendly ethic.

Making the transition to e-invoicing is one of several ways that companies can be more environmentally efficient, without incurring high additional costs or losing valuable time. By adopting innovative processes that don't endanger the earth we work to retain a healthy environment for the offices of the future. 

* Restore
** Pagero

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