The Opportunity

Despite the rising use of digital communication, paper use in offices is soaring. Copy paper shipments in 2000 were up one million tons from 1995 levels. The average office worker uses an estimated 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.

Not only is paper use growing, but an estimated 90% of copy paper is “virgin”, meaning it does not contain any recycled fiber. Manufacturing, using and disposing of this much virgin copy paper consumes large amounts of wood, energy and water, and generates significant air pollution and solid waste.

Our Strategy

In 2002, we partnered with Citigroup, one of the world’s largest financial services firms. We wanted to demonstrate how to reduce paper use and improve paper purchasing and handling in a way that would cut costs and reduce environmental impacts. We focused on reducing paper use at corporate copy centers and in office copiers and printers across the country.

The partnership had three goals:

  • Reduce overall copy paper use
  • Increase post-consumer recycled content of paper purchased
  • Improve the environmental and forest management practices of Citigroup’s paper suppliers


In June, 2003, the results of the partnership were announced:

  • Citigroup’s Citibank, Global Corporate and Investment Bank and Global Investment Management locations in the U.S. switched from virgin to 30% post-consumer recycled copy paper at no additional cost
  • This move resulted in estimated annual savings of:
    • 43.8 billion BTU’s of energy, enough to supply 430 homes for a year
    • 2,800 tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to taking 500 cars off the road for a year
    • 26.3 million gallons of wastewater, enough to fill 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools
    • 8,900 tons of wood, equivalent to 214,000 trees
    • 1,450 tons of solid waste, equivalent to 107 fully-loaded garbage trucks
  • Implemented employee education programs encouraging double-sided printing and copying. During a 5-week test of double-sided printing, Citigroup saved an estimated $98,000, and avoided 11 tons of sold waste and 28 tons of greenhouse gases
  • Conducted a financial analysis showing that investments in duplexing printers have a 21-month payback period
  • Instituted a paper supplier evaluation process to promote responsible forest management and environmentally preferable paper manufacturing