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A Strategic Plan for Office Paper: Buying Less and Buying Better

Alameda County, CA
Program Year: 2017

Alameda County reduced paper use 23% in 5 years through a comprehensive strategic approach that saves taxpayer dollars, fights climate change, and provides more convenient government services. In 2012, our Board of Supervisors committed the County to reduce office paper use by 20% (below a 2010 baseline). Each of our twenty agencies was asked to contribute to the shared goal. After assisting in developing the target, two multi-agency employee committees led the charge to tackle the cultural changes needed to achieve the goal. The committees initiated multiple strategies including: • Launching campaigns to encourage employees to print less and print double-sided; • Asking agency leaders to assign a representative in each agency to tackle paper reduction; and • Providing technical support for moving business processes to electronic format. Then, using the savings from buying less paper, we entered into a new contract with a local vendor to purchase exclusively 100% post-consumer recycled content office paper. By 2015, thanks to employee engagement and technological upgrades, we had exceeded our goal of 20% reduction – and had transitioned fully to the 100% recycled office paper. To further leverage these efforts, we encourage local public agencies to “piggyback” on our paper contract so they can also afford to switch to 100% recycled office paper. Taken together, these initiatives save about $100,000 per year on paper purchase costs alone, not to mention reduced printing and storage costs. By using less paper, every year we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 86 cars from the road for that year. In addition to saving paper, many of these initiatives also make it easier for staff and residents to access information electronically. To assist other local governments to replicate this success, we are regularly asked to share learnings and resources from this model program.

Ms. Myrna Lopez
Intergovernmental Affairs and Civic Engagement