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Greentailing and the 64 Thousand Tree Question – Can Reducing POS Paper Consumption Save the Planet?
Is thermal paper consumption at the checkout of sales receipt printers the next target for Greentailers there bid for carbon neutrality?
Thermal receipt printers in retail stores consume hundreds of thousands of rolls of thermal paper every day. They do this while performing their task of printing receipts, which are invariably thrown away within an hour of leaving the store. Retailers paying attention to the mood of environmentally conscious consumers are constantly looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint – and paper consumption at the point of sale could be an attractive area to focus on. Especially since any savings in paper consumption would not only help the environment but also help with cost reductions for the store.
In this article we quantify the amount of thermal paper that a typical 700 store retail chain would use in a day and year – and the impact that rationalizing paper usage could have on the organisation’s carbon footprint.
I chose 700 stores as a base, because in the market I observe – Australia – there are two significant players in the supermarket each with more than 700 stores in operation.
In a typical supermarket in Australia a store checkout lane will consume an average of 3.5 rolls of thermal paper per day. The weight of a roll of thermal paper consists of 333 grams of actual paper. An average supermarket will have at least 10 checkout lanes.
Doing the basic math, the argument for paper savings becomes compelling:
- 700 retail stores x 10 lanes per store = 7000 checkout lanes for that retail chain
- 7000 checkout lanes x 3.5 rolls of thermal paper per day = 24,500 rolls of paper/day.
- 24,500 rolls of paper x 333 grams/roll = 8,158,500 grams in total, which equals 8.1585 tons of paper per day.
This sounds like a lot of paper – and yes it is! It requires approximately 22 trees to make a single ton of thermal paper. So in our 700 store scenario above, where the retail chain consumes an average of over 8 tons of paper per day of operation this equates to:
8.1585 tons of paper per day x 22 trees per ton = 179 trees per day
Most supermarkets operate for at least 360 days of a given year and this daily tree consumption really explodes when you extrapolate these figures, as the number of trees consumed each year suddenly jumps to –
179 trees consumed per day x 360 days in operation = 64,440 trees per year!
If a greentail business could reduce their paper consumption by 50%, they would save 32,000 trees each year – 320,000 trees in a decade.
Multiply this number by how many retail chains are out there and we’re talking literally millions of mature trees that have so far proven to be the best carbon-sucking device available on the planet.
Can greentailers make a difference by reducing paper consumption?
Sure they can – a new type of green pos-printer technology, or eco-printers, is available that makes 50% paper savings within reach. The question now is whether greentailers have the desire to follow.
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