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December 14, 2018

Let’s Scrap our Paper Dependency and Improve the Environment

Written by Randy Lovelace | Food Safety, Connected Facility

A single tree can produce anywhere from 10,000 – 20,000 sheets of paper. On the surface, this seems like trees are extraordinarily efficient at being a paper source, but the real problem with paper usage is more complicated. Some estimates put current recycling efforts for paper at 50%. Despite the incredible ability of our leafy friends to be the main source of our paper, we are not capable of reusing its bounty as efficiently as we might expect. One solution would be to improve recycling efforts so that we are reusing closer to 100% of the paper we produce. Another, simpler option: use less paper!


We have written extensively on the benefits of digital checklists, but have yet to discuss in detail the threat on the environment that paper processes impose. Let’s take a look at how you can help our environment by going paperless.


Environmental Impact

It takes 7,000 gallons of water and 12 trees to make 1 ton of paper according to Michael Oshman, founder and CEO of the Green Restaurant Association. Oshman’s call to go paperless is encouraging – many businesses still use paper processes and rely on manual methods of performing daily open and closing tasks.


Take for instance one of the most successful chain restaurants: McDonald's, which has over 100 pages of paper checklists that must be completed every month, by every restaurant. At the time of this writing, there are about 15,500 stores in North America. McDonald’s will go through 1,550,000 sheets of paper each and every month, equating to roughly 96 trees. This is assuming that no paper is wasted, and does not include usage outside of their monthly checklists. By simply switching to a digital solution, McDonald's can save roughly 650,000 gallons of water and 1,100 trees every year. Now that is significant!


Increase in Efficiency and Access to Documentation

Switching to a robust digital food safety platform can help you maintain compliance and reduce errors in your foodservice operation. By adopting digital solutions, such as digital checklists for task management, foodservice organizations are better equipped to manage employee productivity and have easier access to valuable documentation during an inspection or audit. Additionally, centralized management allows for non-disruptive, iterative changes to open and closing tasks. This presents a significant opportunity to reduce the time it takes to change processes.


With the right digital platform, you can:

  • Access multiple sources of information from a single platform
  • Improve operational efficiency
  • Enhance managerial control
  • Reduce fraud (“pencil whipping”)
  • Improve above-unit visibility
  • Reduce paper usage for documentation


When all of your checklists are housed on a single platform with a user-friendly interface, staff members are more likely to use them – and use them correctly. The key is choosing a well-designed platform.


Reduce Paper-Related Costs

Proactive management of food safety is a significant way to save money. Foodservice organizations risk losing immense value through a single food safety incident. Most businesses today are unknowingly using a reactive strategy to food safety – they do not implement sufficient measures to prevent foodborne illness before it's too late. Paper processes are not able to alert management to risky behavior, whereas a digital solution can notify you of potentially dangerous, albeit unintentional, mistakes. A single lapse in food safety due to the ineffectiveness of paper methods can be costly, far more than the costs to implement a digital food safety management system.


How do you determine the financial impact of a foodborne illness outbreak?  Watch our webinar to find out how a food safety incident can significantly  impact brand value.


Without a digital solution, businesses are required to maintain their documentation of meeting regulatory guidelines in physical locations. Material costs of paper, storage, document management, and more can be eliminated. Switch to digital food safety today to start saving money, improving operational efficiency, and improving the environment today!


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