Open-access content Tuesday 4th June 2013 — updated 1.53pm, Tuesday 5th May 2020
Richard Costin, managing director of Banner Business Services, a UK supplier of office products and services, explains a new type of records management.
14 February 2013
Even in these technologically advanced times, every business needs to archive data, records and papers.
It's estimated that 23 per cent of all office space is still devoted to the storage of paperwork. Work space is money, and businesses want to clear out data to make way for essential office items and staff.
Storing records off-site means that space is maximised, rental costs are lower and staff
are able to concentrate on core activities.
A new type of record management service, closed loop, allows businesses to store and archive data from 'cradle to grave', with the potential to convert records into recycled paper at the end of their lifecycle.
The system works by collecting waste paper, whether it is confidential, pre-shred or simply general waste paper, and turning it into recycled copier paper.
If shredding is required, an on- or off-site service can be provided. Once the waste paper
is removed, it is taken to a paper mill where it is segregated and turned into pulp. The pulp is cleaned, without chemicals or bleach, pressed, dried and manufactured into paper.
Any waste created from the de-inking process is consumed for energy and burnt to produce a fuel source for the mill. The paper is then delivered back to the client ready to be used and recycled again and again.
Paper can be recycled up to 22 times, if the recycled paper is combined with 'virgin' paper.
This is a technique that sustains the fibre pool for a longer period of time. The whole process is fully audited, and currently awaits patent approval.
Closing the loop
This process is marketed as an audited recycling service that produces a 'third generation' of recycled paper - paper that has been manufactured and used numerous times.
It was originally developed in 2010 to meet the needs of organisations, including HMRC, that wanted to use paper originating from their own waste.
The service provides what is currently the only 100 per cent recycled paper produced in Europe. It is currently used by McDonalds, Virgin Media and HMRC among others, who also take advantage of document destruction as part of the service.
At present, the total tonnage produced for the closed loop copier paper is around 604,000 boxes, of which 90 per cent is for central government.
Government departments monitor the use of this paper and providers of the service contribute management information to demonstrate the benefits of a closed loop system compared with other paper.
One issue with the service is that not all organisations are in a position to use it. For example, many businesses have existing contracts with facilities management companies or are stuck in PFI contracts.
These require a degree of 'unpicking' before waste paper can be diverted to a UK-based closed loop paper mill. Closed loop copier paper can be cost-competitive with an equivalent virgin pulp product and 30 per cent less expensive than high-white recycled paper (depending on the fluctuating cost of waste paper).
However, at present, no facility exists in the UK to handle a 'closed loop' operation, meaning that paper must be shipped abroad for treatment.
Companies have been considering how to justify setting up a UK-based plant. The best solution is likely to involve locating such a facility next to or within an existing industrial production facility with adequate power and water supply.
A fully equipped plant capable of producing 200,000 tonnes recycled fibre annually, and a 125,000 tonne paper mill would require an investment of approximately £100 million.
An investment of this nature would incur depreciation approximately over 30 years and allow a minimum 10-year full production cycle to calculate and deliver adequate levels of financial return. Such an investment would clearly require a long-term strategic view and commitment.
Records management at any level is designed to reduce costs and increase efficiency. A closed loop paper system can offer organisations a life-cycle service for all documents, files and records that makes commercial and environmental sense.
To date, more than two million reams of closed loop paper has been produced. This equates
to saving 86,000 trees; cutting 3,373 tonnes of CO2 emissions; a reduction in energy consumption of 40.6 million kilowatts, and a reduction in water consumption of 226 million litres.
These statistics come from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Heidelberg, Germany, whose independent study reviewed the various components of the paper- making process across both virgin and recycled pulp paper.