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Push for paper-saving tech

With national Arbour Week highlighting green issues, companies are streamlining printing and paper-based operations to trim wastage.

Woolworths is in the process of implementing the 'Follow me' printing programme, with the aim of saving paper and energy. It says paper wastage due to documents not being collected from the printer is down by 10%.

“The single most effective way of reducing the environmental impact of printed pages is simply to print less,” says Fawza Essa, Woolworths group director of supply chain and IT.

When using the Follow Me technology, a 'print job' can only be accessed from a printer by swiping an employee's access card. “This means printing is released when necessary, not automatically spewed out to await collection by a user who may not collect the prints,” the company explains.

In the areas in which the 'Follow Me' solution has been deployed, 87% of print jobs now use both sides of the paper.

Woolworths adds that the printers also have default settings which delete all print queues after 24 hours. 

According to the retailer, the 'Follow Me' roll-out began with a full assessment of the number of printers across Woolworths' head office campus. This was coupled with a plan to consolidate and deploy new energy-efficient multi-function printers more strategically across all floors and buildings.

Essa says the company has seen a 58% reduction in the number of printers. “This has a positive effect on the environment as we are reducing energy consumption and ultimately moderating our carbon footprint.

“By focusing on our IT systems and infrastructure, not only will we be able to save paper, but also reduce our energy use. Hopefully this will help to change the way our people interact with scarce resources. Every little bit counts.”

Sign of the times

Nashua Mobile is also rolling out a paper-saving initiative, by offering paperless contracts at all stores countrywide.

The company has implemented a digital signature solution in partnership with Signatura, to introduce a completely paperless process for customers signing up for cellular contracts.

According to Nashua, the move towards digital capture of signatures supports the company's migration towards paperless business processes, in line with its goal to conduct operations in a more environmentally friendly manner. The system went live nationwide on 1 September, in time for Arbour Day.

Barry Venter, GM of business services at Nashua Mobile, says customers signing up for a new contract, or that get a new handset delivered to them by its courier partner, will be able complete the process without signing a single piece of paper. “We will be able to cut down on the amount of paper that we use, which will benefit the environment.”

The customer's signature is captured on a digital signature pad and is electronically attached to the electronic 'paperwork' generated by Nashua Mobile's systems, it explains.

The signature is stored in an encrypted format for security reasons and cannot be copied. It is also time and date stamped so it can't be reused for any purpose besides the original contract it's attached to, adds Nashua. Any attempt to change the document after it has been signed will invalidate both the signature and the contract.

In keeping with Arbour Week, Woolworths advises various ways of saving paper in the office. These include only printing the exact number of pages or selected text needed, printing on both sides of the page, and keeping misprints to use as draft or note paper instead of discarding them.

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