10 Essential “Going Green” Questions for Document Center Managers

10 Essential “Going Green” Questions
for Document Operations Managers
We realize that printing and mailing  is a misunderstood industry by some environmentalists. There are ways to be “Green” in this industry and show the world how we use renewable resources responsibly while conducting our business. It is all about Sustainability. The USPS has a number of initiatives in  place.

Check out this USPS website to get some ideas.

The goals and objectives of an environmental initiative can sometimes seem too subjective to allow action to occur. This list gives managers some things to consider as they go about making their document operations more green.

1. What are the goals for greening my document operation?

Environmental goals may be related to the documents you produce, the manner in which they are produced, or both. Some of goals may be initiated by document managers themselves. For others, the goals are driven by corporate policy. Some operations seek an outside expert’s help in the drafting of attainable goals for their departments.

2. Are the environmental goals and objectives clear and consistent?

Sometimes environmental impact goals are expressed in generalities or they are too wide-ranging to allow Document Managers to have any direct impact, such as “Reduce our carbon footprint by 25%”. Seek out clear and measurable objectives.

3. Do we really need to do this?

Companies worldwide are seeing the benefits of being socially responsible. An image of positive environmental stewardship is good for business, and many of the steps taken to reduce environmental impact can also reduce expenses. But more than the selfish interests of the business, corporations and their executives are definitely taking the protection of the planet seriously. Anything we can do in the document production business to make less of an impact is a good thing. There is plenty of negative press regarding the environmental impact of paper-based communications. Promoting your organization’s efforts to make mail more efficient can add balance to the debate.

4. What can I actually control that will make a difference?

Analyzing the carbon emissions of a piece of paper from the time a tree is harvested until it reaches your warehouse is a complex, time-consuming exercise. From an operations point of view, we recommend focusing on selected aspects of this global problem.  Have an in-depth green assessment of your operation conducted and then focus on the ‘critical few’ areas that will make a difference in your own shop.

5. How will I find the time to do this right?

Deciding on a process or design change in order to meet environmental impact goals requires a lot of research, planning, and communication. Companies usually want to publicize their efforts – which opens them up to public scrutiny. Addressing high-visibility environmental issues in your spare time is not recommended.  Adequately allocate resources.

6. Are there certifications for which I will be striving to secure?

There are a variety of certifications that address different aspects of environmental impact. Taking the time to determine the value of each one and evaluating the eligibility requirements is necessary before making a decision to go for certification.

7. Am I able to influence corporate environmental policies or will I be simply charged with following them?

Often, internal operations managers are not invited to help craft the policies that will affect their departments.  However, informed and proactive managers can affect policies. Take an active approach and show a positive ROI in dollars and environmental impact.

8. Am I personally accountable for achieving my department’s goals?

Managers with bonuses or performance evaluations tied to environmental impact reductions need to be sure that they dedicate the time and resources to making it happen – without impacting the productivity or performance of other parts of their operation.

9. Will any of this really make a difference?

Certainly this is a valid question. If corporations do nothing more than convert to buying recycled paper or stepping up their own internal recycling programs, then the impact will be minimal. However, there are often opportunities for vast improvements that will indeed make a difference to the environment if they are well-researched and competently implemented.

10. Where do I start?

The scope of these issues is so large it is sometimes difficult to find a starting place. This is particularly tough when managers are simultaneously concerned with postal rules changes, rate increases, productivity, and dozens of other details that they must face every day. Just as with any other project, going green requires an allocation of time and resources, measurable milestones, a budget, and a deadline.