If your organization has explored automation technologies like intelligent document processing (IDP) solutions, you’re probably already well aware of the efficiency benefits they can provide. IDP solutions can increase your organization’s capacity to process documents and boost your entire team’s productivity.

That said, automation technologies also offer a multitude of other benefits.

Automation and sustainability are inextricably linked. As your organization implements additional automation solutions, you’ll find it’s better equipped to achieve its sustainability goals.

Examining the nexus between automation and sustainability can help you better understand the sustainability benefits that automation technologies provide, giving you more reasons to incorporate them into your organizational strategy. 

The Global Paper Waste Problem

While an organization’s energy consumption certainly contributes to its carbon footprint, another offender is flying just under the radar — the massive amounts of paper that global companies consume yearly.

According to a 2022 Statista report, total US paper consumption declined between 2000 and 2020. At the turn of the Millenium, the country consumed 93.4 million metric tons of paper. By 2020, that figure had dropped to 63.6 million metric tons. The US is trending in the right direction, but businesses can still do better. 

What’s more concerning is global paper consumption. Another 2022 report from Statista found that global paper consumption in 2021 totaled 408 million metric tons. By 2032, that figure is projected to climb to 476 million metric tons.

Cumulatively, paper production accounts for a relatively small percentage of total CO2 emissions. According to 2021 data, the paper and pulp industry generates about 2% of all CO2 emissions.

Regardless, the report also found that this figure represents an all-time high. Because paper production is projected to increase, businesses must act now to minimize their paper usage and reduce their environmental impact. 

Benefits of Automating Your Processes

In some instances, adopting sustainable development goals requires businesses to compromise. Business leaders are often forced to make significant changes to their core processes that will, at least temporarily, reduce operational efficiency and decrease productivity.

Fortunately, this isn’t the case regarding automation and sustainability. Implementing automation technologies yields many benefits in terms of operation and sustainability, including:

Reducing Waste

The most obvious advantage of adopting automation technologies is that these solutions help businesses cut down on waste. Intelligent Document Processing solutions, in particular, are a considerable waste reducer.

Reducing the amount of paper waste your business creates has trickle-down cost-saving effects as well. Not only will your business have to purchase fewer paper products, but it will also be able to buy fewer printers, ink cartridges, staples, staplers and paper clips. Over time, this can lead to significant cost reductions.

Additionally, decreasing waste reduces overhead expenses associated with disposing and recycling trash. While you may not be able to immediately transition to a zero-waste business model, even cutting your waste production in half will make a significant impact on your overhead expenses. 

Demonstrating Commitment to Sustainable Development Goals

One of the less obvious benefits of implementing automation technology is that it allows you to demonstrate that your organization is focused on sustainable initiatives. This has become increasingly important because modern consumers are more conscious of the behaviors of the companies they work with.

After you’ve created sustainable development goals and taken meaningful action to achieve them, you can share this news with your target audience. Doing so will bolster your brand image, help you build trust with consumers or business partners and strengthen your competitive positioning within your respective market.

Minimizing Your Environmental Impact

Recently, businesses worldwide have been making concerted efforts to reduce their carbon footprints. You can also decrease your company’s carbon footprint by exploring ways to reduce your consumption of products produced using fossil fuels.

What exactly does this have to do with automation and sustainability? Simple–Automation technologies can make your business less reliant on goods that aren’t manufactured using sustainable practices. A few examples include:

  • Paper
  • Staples and paper clips
  • Printers
  • Ink cartridges
  • File folders

Ultimately, minimizing your consumption of these products will diminish your overall environmental impact. While your company alone may not be able to move the needle, the cumulative effects of most businesses joining this sustainability movement can be astounding.

Decrease the Workload on Personnel

In addition to providing significant sustainability benefits, automation technologies can significantly decrease your personnel’s workload, as you can use these technologies to automate processes that are traditionally tedious and labor-intensive. 

Reducing your staff’s workload can boost morale, improve employee retention, minimize turnover, and increase overall productivity. In an advantageous cycle, these benefits can indirectly enhance the efficacy of your sustainability initiatives.

Furthermore, employee buy-in to your program can skyrocket when your sustainability investments improve your staff’s work experience. Implementing new technologies and business processes can also be much easier when everyone is on board.

Improve Financial Performance

Implementing interconnected automation and sustainability initiatives promises to reduce waste, decrease operating expenses, boost staff morale and increase team productivity.

Although implementing your automation solution will require an initial investment and commitment from the executive suite, the technology will yield a streamlined time to value.

When you account for the attendant sustainability benefits provided by automation solutions, it’s clear that these technologies provide a clear path forward for your business. Automation technologies will help your organization strengthen its cash flow while enhancing its brand image and advancing its sustainability goals.

Building Sustainable Models

Automation and sustainability should never be treated as separate concepts or ideas. Instead, automation should be viewed as a valuable tool that can be used to achieve sustainability goals while also making your entire organization more efficient.

If your company has begun prioritizing sustainable development goals in its overarching organizational strategy, automation technologies should be a cornerstone of your plan.