In the days of digital pictures & information and storing everything in the cloud, is it really necessary to ask if people still record information on paper, print it off and file it away? Is it even possible that people still like to hold a newspaper or an actual book rather than read from a table or computer?
Several studies still show that the majority of people, even young kids, prefer printed books to reading from screens.
Although printed newspaper subscriptions have fallen in the past few years, they haven’t dropped as significantly as most may have thought; only about two to three percent.
How does this information impact the trash, recycling, and document destruction world?
“With about 71 million tons of paper and paperboard products produced annually in the U.S., along with over 2 billion books, 350 million magazines and 24 billion newspapers, it goes without saying that there enormous benefits of paper recycling. The good news is that paper recycling has long been a success story in terms of recovery, and one that continues to improve over time.”
Although the recycling rates for paper are increasing, “according to the US EPA, the material most frequently encountered in MSW landfills is plain paper-it accounts for more than 40 percent of a landfill’s contents. Newspapers alone can take up as much as 13 percent of the space in US landfills.
Biodegradable materials, including paper, do not easily decompose once they are disposed of in a landfill. Paper is many times more resistant to deterioration when compacted in a landfill than when it is in open contact with the atmosphere. A study by William Rathje, who runs the Garbage Project, has shown that, when excavated from a landfill, newspapers from the 1960s can be intact and readable.”
Printed materials still, however, have a distinct place in our personal lives and in business. “A detailed or complicated document is often easier to read, pass around and make notes on if it’s printed” or if you are travelling to a rural area that has limited or no internet service. Storage and easy access remain large drawbacks.
Enter digital storage.
“Unlike paper files that must be searched manually and often by memory, electronic files can be retrieved using keywords included in either the file name or the content, no matter where the document is located.
With cloud storage, documents can be retrieved from mobile devices as well as office computers, providing greater flexibility. For this reason, digital is preferred for work teams” that are in different locations working on the same project.
“In today’s work environments…dedicated filing space for paper documents often doesn’t exist. With space at a premium and the cost of electronic storage getting cheaper every day, using a scanner to turn paper documents into digital files is an effective solution.
Confidentiality and security are particularly important issues when it comes to legal and financial documents. Storing sensitive information electronically does open up the possibility that documents could be hacked and compromised. Even so, the advantages of digital documents still win out for most legal and financial advisors.
Emailing is rarely secure, so attaching a bank statement or tax return to an email without additional security is putting information at risk,. A simple solution is to put a password on the document that the recipient must use to open it; you should communicate the password verbally to the recipient. This is good practice even for digital documents you don’t share across networks. And don’t forget to password-protect thumb drives containing sensitive information as well.”
If you must use paper, or just really like the old-school style of recording and storing data, consider secure certified document destruction when the necessity for that paper is no longer.
For more information on trash, recycling or certified document destruction visit www.wasteawaygroup.com.