The true environmental cost of invoicing

Electronic invoicing (e-Invoicing) networks are helping to save business customers vast amounts of paper each year by completely eliminating the need for printed invoices. e-Invoicing networks help to simplify and streamline the invoice-to-pay process by extracting invoice data from a supplier’s billing system and sending it to their customer’s accounting system – eliminating the need to process, manually key-in, or store paper invoices.

The sending and receiving of paper-based invoices can cause organisations to waste high volumes of paper, due to the fact that invoices are often wrong or inaccurate. Industry figures suggest that anywhere between 8 and 20% of invoice transations regularly have errors in them. With e-Invoicing, this issue is avoided as the inaccuracy is picked up straight away in an electronic format so there is no need for sending paper duplicates; it even eliminates the late payment notification that is also sent out when problems occur.

Many companies worldwide – including HP, GM, Dixons Retail Group, GSK, Barclays, Kellogg’s and others in the UK public sector – have adopted an e-Invoicing solution to save valuable environmental resources and improve their corporate responsibility mandates.

The numerous ways in which e-Invoicing can assist companies to improve their CSR and “green” credentials are impressive. Significant, measurable improvements can be made by switching to e-Invoicing, by reducing paper usage, fuel consumption, and storage space.

The amount of paper we waste each year is staggering; the UK consumes around 12.4 million tonnes of paper each year, and approximately 60-80% of all office waste is made up of paper, according to Envirowise. Paper invoicing significantly contributes to the UK’s office waste. Each invoice takes an average of 3 sheets of paper, which adds up to a lot of waste when the amount of daily transactions is taken into account. Furthermore, the global impact of wasted paper is a serious concern. According to recent statistics, within 15 years some 20% of Africa’s forests will be gone. The World Conservation Union’s Red List has said that more than 12,000 species (out of 40,000 assessed) face the risk of extinction. This amounts to 1 bird species in 8, 13% of all flowering species and 25% of all mammal species being affected.

Paper invoicing also raises the issue of storage and ensuring implications for the environment. e-Invoicing removes the need for physical storage space, by providing digital copies of each invoice. Without it, however, each invoice must be archived for several years before being disposed of.

Reduction in fuel and energy usage is another of the key benefits of e-Invoicing. e-Invoicing dramatically cuts fuel consumption, and by doing so helps conserve limited fuel resources. OB10 has calculated that in the last year our customers have saved enough fuel to run the average home for over 290 years and over 34,000 pounds of air pollutants through their adoption of e-Invoicing.

By eliminating the need for printed invoices, e-Invoicing is addressing environmental concerns by helping to save trees, conserve energy, and reduce waste at the same time.

But there are sound business reasons for adopting e-Invoicing too. When companies switch to e-Invoicing, accounts also become more of a streamlined and simplified process. As a result, with the reduced hassle of manual tasks, transactional costs are also noticeably reduced, typically by 60%. By replacing printed invoices with electronic ones, companies can reduce their impact on the environment every single day, and in a number of different ways.                    e-Invoicing aims to help companies improve processing for themselves, but also to help them make a contribution in an effort to help the environment.

5 Responses

  1. […] savingsBy OB10 on December 20, 2010This item was originally posted by Stefan Foryszewski on his “The E-invoicing  Blog”. Stefan Foryszewski is is one of the founders of OB10. He is now responsible for Business […]

  2. […] Foryszewski’s recent article is about as good as it gets in terms of explaining the case to electronic invoicing and the impact […]

  3. Great commentary on impact that e-invoicing has upon the world.

  4. Hi!
    Which references did you use when writing the article? Where do your facts come from?

  5. Hi Hanna, most of our sources are referenced in the post. The calculation for the amount of energy saved through e-Invoicing comes from an industry standard estimate. The formula was devised by Fran Berman, in the book “Trash to Cash: How Businesses Can Save Money and Increase Profits.” I hope that helps.

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