Office Paper & WasteWise

WasteWise Program

Adopt Best Practices for Office Paper Management; Participate in the WasteWise Program

Law offices use large quantities of paper, and paper use leaves a large carbon footprint. The life-cycle of one ton of office paper, from production to recycling, results in the release of about nine tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)–equivalent gases, which contribute to global climate change; as well as other air and water pollutants.

Law offices can reduce paper consumption and waste by adopting best practices for recycling, purchase of paper with recycled content, and double-sided copying and printing. As part of the ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge, the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) and the ABA Law Practice Management Section (LPM) will recognize as an ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge “Partner” an office that adopts policies to implement at least two of the following three best practices for office paper management:

• Purchase office paper with at least 30% recycled content

• Recycle discarded office paper

• Use double-sided copying and printing at least for drafts and internal documents.

Although the ABA will recognize law offices as meeting the Climate Challenge simply by adopting best practices for office paper management, SEER and LPM also encourage law offices to participate in EPA’s WasteWise program. To participate, the law office registers with WasteWise and submits a plan for office paper management that focuses on some or all of the best practices described above. The law office that does so will receive recognition from WasteWise as a “Partner” and from the ABA as a “Law Office Climate Challenge Partner.” The law office may then implement its plan and file an annual report with WasteWise that describes its progress and that quantifies – through reasonable approximations – its reductions in paper usage or paper waste. In addition, the law office can translate those reductions into quantifiable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through simple calculation tools available through WasteWise. After the law office reports that information, SEER or LPM will include the amounts of greenhouse gas emissions avoided on the Law Office Climate Challenge Web site. In addition, if the law office has implemented at least two of the above-described three best practices for office paper management – including, for the double-sided copying practice, achieving the goal of double-sided copying for at least 50% of the pages in internal and draft documents – the ABA will recognize the law office as a “Law Office Climate Challenge Leader.”

Questions and Answers

For full details, please see EPA WasteWise Program-Questions and Answers. ( more)

1. What is the Problem of Office Paper Waste and How is It Linked to Energy Consumption and Climate Change?
Law offices tend to be paper-intensive. They primarily use large quantities of printer and copier paper, but also use other types of white paper (letterhead, bond, and note paper), colored paper, file folders, and many types of envelopes (including manila envelopes). ( more)

2. How Can a Law Office Participate in the Law Office Climate Challenge by Adopting Best Practices for Office Paper Management?
A law office can meet the Climate Challenge by adopting simple and practical best practices for office paper management. Specifically, law offices should adopt at least two of the three best practices:

a) Purchase Office Paper with at least 30% Post-consumer Recycled Content
b) Recycle Mixed Office Paper
c) Use Double-sided Copying and Printing ( more)

3. How Can a Law Office Participate in the Law Office Climate Challenge by Joining the EPA WasteWise program?
Another way to participate in the Climate Challenge is to join the EPA WasteWise program, implement at least two out of the three best practices for office paper management described above, and quantify both the amount of office paper waste avoided and the amount of attendant greenhouse gas emissions avoided. ( more)

4. How are the Environmental Benefits Calculated?
The WasteWise program provides detailed information about the impacts on energy usage and climate change from waste management, including office paper waste management. See " WasteWise Climate Campaign." ( more)

5. What About Other Types of Office Waste Products?
Although for reasons of simplicity and practicality, the focus of the Law Office Climate Challenge is on office paper management, law offices can implement practical and effective best practices to reduce other types of waste, as well. ( more)