Persuading business to use e-invoicing is like persuading people to recycle

Persuading business to use e-invoicing is like persuading people to recycle

It’s clearly the right thing to do. So why isn’t everybody doing it?

I’m going to have to come clean. I was, for years, one of those people that was reluctant to recycle. I wasn’t a global warming skeptic or anything like that. My formative years were in the 1970’s when we thought the oil was about to run out. Green was good and what is now called sustainable energy sources were seen as the way of the future. I have a scientific education so when I hear that a large majority of scientists agree that there is an urgent need to control carbon emissions I don’t think twice about ignoring the conspiracy theorists and crackpots that claim we can carry on regardless.

So why was I reluctant to recycle? Why was I not in the least bit motivated to turn off my standby lights? And why do I love plastic bags? And what’s any of it got to do with electronic invoicing?Purchasing Insight logo

I’m a recycler now but it took me longer than many to buy into it but my reluctance wasn’t out of laziness. I had what I thought were genuine objections. Like these:

Standby lights are there for a reason. Modern electronic devices like TVs and computers minimize the power they use by going to sleep. The standby light is there to tell you it’s still on. That’s a good thing. Telling me to turn my appliances off when I’ve already invested in technology that goes into sleep mode to save the planet and save me money just irritates me. I’m not doing it.

Washing my yogurt pots with potable water uses more energy than I save by recycling them. And as for plastic bags! Plastic bags are made from the byproducts of the petrochemical industry. If we didn’t make plastic bags out of those byproducts, we have to burn them. We get oil out of the ground to fuel planes and trucks – not to make plastic bags. Getting rid of plastic bags might solve a litter and landfill problem but it won’t solve the global warming problem.

You’ve heard it all before. These aren’t genuine objections at all. What I’m really saying is “I don’t like being told what to do.” And this is what businesses in Europe are going to behave like when they’re given the option to send invoices electronically.

Everyone knows it makes sense. We all know that if every business used e-invoicing it would make a big difference but unless there’s something in it the people that need to be persuaded, they’ll find reasons not to do it. Which is why we need a way to directly incentivise businesses to do the right thing – because optional isn’t an option.

Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin