Greentailing and the 64 Thousand Tree Question – Can Reducing POS Paper Consumption Save the Planet?

Is thermal paper consumption at the checkout by point-of-sale receipt printers the next target for Greentailers in there bid for carbon neutrality?

Thermal receipt printers in retail stores are daily consuming hundreds of thousands of rolls of thermal paper. They do so whilst performing their job of printing receipts that invariably are discarded within an hour of leaving the store. Retailers with an eye on the mood of environmentally-conscious consumers are constantly searching for ways to reduce their carbon footprint – and paper consumption at the point of sale could well be an enticing area to focus on. Especially given that any savings in paper consumption would not only help the environment but also assist with cost reductions for the store.

In this article we are quantifying the amount of thermal paper that a typical 700 store retail chain would use in a day and a year – and the impact that rationalizing paper usage could potentially have on an organizations carbon footprint.

I selected 700 stores as a base because in the market I am observing – Australia – there are two significant players in the supermarket arena each with 700+ stores operating.

In a typical supermarket in Australia a point of sale checkout lane will consume on average 3.5 rolls of thermal paper per day. The weight of a roll of thermal paper comprises 333 grams of actual paper. An average supermarket will have at least 10 checkout lanes.

Doing the basic math the argument for paper saving becomes compelling:

  1. 700 retail stores x 10 lanes per store = 7000 checkout lanes for that retail chain
  2. 7000 checkout lanes x 3.5 rolls of thermal paper per day = 24,500 rolls of paper/day.
  3. 24,500 rolls of paper x 333 grams/roll = 8,158,500 grams in total, which equates to 8.1585 tonnes of paper per day.

This sounds like a lot of paper – and yes it is! It requires approximately 22 trees to make a single tonne of thermal paper. So in our 700 store scenario above, where the retail chain consumes on average more than 8 tonnes of paper each day of operation this equates to:

8.1585 tonnes of paper per day x 22 trees per tonne = 179 trees per day

Most supermarkets are in business for at least 360 days of a given year and this daily tree consumption really blows out when you extrapolate these figures, because the number of trees consumed annually suddenly leaps to –

179 trees consumed per day x 360 days operating = 64,440 trees per year!

If a greentailing business were able to reduce their paper consumption by 50{db3ae8a81280553779663c6dc431a922c9e5ce920863bf636bccd15cfbaaca0d} they would be saving 32,000 trees every year – 320,000 trees in a decade.

Multiply this number by how many retail chains are out there and we are talking literally millions of mature trees which to date are proving to be the best carbon sucking device available on the planet.

Can greentailers make a difference by reducing paper consumption?

Sure they can – a new breed of green pos printer technology, or eco printers, is available that makes a 50{db3ae8a81280553779663c6dc431a922c9e5ce920863bf636bccd15cfbaaca0d} paper saving achievable. The question now is do greentailers have the desire to follow through.

Pungky Dwiasmoro Hiswardhani

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