Electronic Invoicing – The Green Options
Interviewed at the Accounts Payable Summit in London late last year, Pete Loughlin described the importance of taking the environmental impact of paper invoices seriously. But is it quite as clear cut as all that?
Is Electronic Invoicing Really Green?
There’s no doubt that the green band wagon is rolling and sure – to an extent, it is as important to be seen to be green as it is to take our green credentials seriously. And it’s not surprising that for every claim for environmentally friendliness, there’s a counter claim.
Stefan Foryszewski’s recent article is about as good as it gets in terms of explaining the case for electronic invoicing and the impact on the environment but in a response to the article reproduced in EEI Platform, Martyn Eustace gave a spirited defence of the paper invoice.
“Paper is a renewable and recyclable product that, if responsibly produced and consumed, is an environmentally sustainable media. It is often surprising to learn that in Europe, where 93% of our paper comes from, the area of forest has grown by 30% since 1950 and is increasing at a rate of 1.5 million football pitches every year” he claims.
Of course this is a good point and Martyn goes on to explain the not insignificant impact that our use of computers and technology has on out environment. Indeed, it has been claimed that “the internet” is responsible for introducing at least as much CO2 into our environment as the global travel industry.
We need to get real about the environment – but taking it seriously doesn’t mean banning everything that with a carbon footprint. I prefer to use public transport or walk or cycle because it’s the responsible thing to do but I’m not going to get religious about it. If I need to get to hospital in an emergency – thank God for the internal combustion engine.
And neither does it mean making highly visible gestures. Carbon offsetting schemes seemed like a great idea but when you consider that they often merely funded green initiatives that were already fully funded and underway, they didn’t actually increase the number of trees on the planet – they just made the schemes more profitable. Carbon offsetting your round-the-world trip may make you feel better but face it – staying at home and planting the trees too has a greater impact.
Purchasing Insight doesn’t sit on the fence on this issue. Using recycled paper invoices is like driving a hybrid car when you could walk. Yes, of course recycled paper is good but aiming to eliminate paper invoices entirely is a better option.