Allstate Cutting Paper Use Drastically; What Local Firms can Learn
Posted on September 12, 2011 by yiqi
From Triple Pundit:
“The insurance company Allstate uses a lot of paper – in 2009 it used approximately 3.7 billion sheets, equal to approximately 450,000 trees. So it’s not surprising that the company identified paper reduction as one of its top environmental priorities, setting a goal of reducing overall office paper use by 25 percent by 2010. In their latest CSR report, which was released earlier this week, Allstate is revealing that it actually did much better, reducing its office paper use last year by 41 percent.
“Allstate’s plan focused at first on the company’s employees. Setting 208 as the base year, their plan, which was initiated in April 2009, asked employees to make four changes in the way they used paper:
- Eliminate separator sheets on shared printers
- Print double-sided whenever possible
- Not to print unless necessary
- Recycle used paper.
“The incentive was more than just saving trees – by reducing overall office paper use by 25 percent the company estimated it will generate approximately $1 million in annual savings. By the end of 2009, Allstate already saw a reduction of 21 percent in its office paper use. Another step forward was taken in July 2009, when the Allstate Print Communication Center (APCC) received FSC and SFI certifications, so that when employees do print high-quality documents they do it using a certified paper.
“Encouraged by its in-house effort and success, Allstate turned to examine how it can reduce paper used in the communication with its customers. The company estimated it sends approximately 121 million billing-related documents through the mail annually and it set an ambitious goal of reducing customer paper 20% by 2013 using 2009 as a baseline.
“Allstate approached it by offering customers paperless options such as eBill, an electronic version of a paper bill, and automatic patment plans such as the Allstate EZPay. These electronic options combined with eliminating unnecessary customer bill documents cut customer-focused paper use by 11.8 percent in 2010, compared with their 2009 baseline. Overall, Allstate saved approximately 14 million pieces of paper and listen to this – $7.8 million dollars in print and postage costs! So Allstate is well ahead of its 20 percent reduction target, not to mention the impressive savings it generates, which is all great. On the other hand, you can see why the U.S. Postal Office is heading towards bankruptcy.”
Singapore is home to several financial institutions (including insurance companies), which isn’t a surprise given that the country is basically one giant financial institution in itself. With the money and trade that goes through Singapore (physically through our ports and virtually), financial institutions are necessary to facilitate all the activities going on locally.
A few things stood out to me:
- They started in-house. Like we’ve always said, changes need to start from within; the ground-up if you will. Often times when we speak with organisations, we highlight the importance of educating their employees. We recommend empowering your employees with ways to make their lives at home more environmentally friendly. This will then translate into a workplace built upon sustainability.
- This was as much a cost cutting exercise as a CSR move. While some paper – documentation of policies, etc. – is no doubt necessary, I’ve always felt that the industry is wasting way too much paper. I’ve had experience with a few financial consultants in my day, and every experience has left me cringing at the amount of paper they use – explaining the policy, doing the math, the comparisons, showing the current policies held.
While insurance companies housed in our friendly financial hub won’t be able to save the same amount of money that Allstate has achieved, you will be able to save the same percentages easily. Do your own calculations (you are financial consultants right?) and you can estimate how much savings you can expect from starting such an exercise.
Besides, there are already services that can help you with your endeavor to go paperless. I’m not even talking about your iPads and other such expensive devices, I’m talking about services that have been established in aiding companies moving away from the paper.
Take for example GreenPost! From their website (because who better to describe what they do):
“GreenPost has come up with a unique technical solution to go paperless in the most efficient way possible. With its patent pending aggregation framework, it assists billers in going paperless through complete delivery from their online portals or directly from the billing platforms.”
Again, call me. Help me, help you.