How Businesses Are Going Green with E-Signatures.

If you had to guess, how many pieces of paper would you say you go through in a year at the office?

  • 1,000?
  • 3,000?
  • 5,000?

How about 10,000? According to studies, that’s the number of sheets the average office worker uses. In today’s digital era, where technology is revolutionizing every aspect of our lives, exploring ways to promote sustainability is essential. One significant area where technology can make a substantial environmental impact is by adopting e-signatures or electronic signatures.

By eliminating the need for physical paper documents and traditional signing processes, e-signatures offer a sustainable alternative that reduces paper consumption, conserves resources, and minimizes our carbon footprint.

This article discusses various ways through which e-signatures promote sustainability and contribute to building a greener future. 

How E-signatures Promote Sustainability 

From reducing paper waste to streamlining business operations, e-signatures play a vital role in embracing digital transformation while prioritizing environmental responsibility. Here are some of the ways through which e-signatures are promoting sustainability as much as possible. 

Resource Efficiency and Space Saving 

Every four-drawer filing cabinet holds up to 10k to 12k documents and occupies around nine square feet of floor space that could be used for more productive activities. E-signatures offer resource efficiency and space savings in various ways. Physical filing systems and storage cabinets occupy valuable office space and require significant resources for maintenance increasing demand for office supplies for ample usage.  However, by digitizing the signing process, businesses can eliminate the need for physical document storage, freeing up space and reducing resource consumption. This enables organizations to optimize their office environment, making more efficient use of available space.

Reduction in Carbon Footprint and Transportation 

In 2022, British banking and insurance holding company NatWest Group saved 9 million sheets of paper, 960,000 gallons of water, and 336,000 pounds of wood with digital documents and workflows. E-signatures bring about a significant reduction in transportation-related carbon emissions. Traditional signing processes often involve physical document transportation, including the use of courier services or relying on mail services.  By adopting e-signatures, businesses can eliminate the need for physical document movement, thereby reducing carbon emissions associated with transportation. This change contributes to a lower carbon footprint and saves time and resources that would otherwise be spent on document delivery.

Paperless Workflow

It’s been estimated that 45% of paper printed in offices ends up trashed by the end of the day and that companies spend more than $120 billion a year on printed forms—most of which outdate themselves within three months. Traditional signing processes rely heavily on paper, resulting in significant environmental consequences. Deforestation, energy consumption, and waste generation are just a few of the detrimental effects associated with paper-based documentation.

However, e-signatures have emerged as a game-changer in promoting sustainability. The environmental benefits of e-signatures are multifaceted.

  • Firstly, the elimination of paper usage directly mitigates deforestation, which is a critical issue globally. Reducing the demand for paper can help conserve forests and protect biodiversity. 
  • Secondly, the water and energy consumption involved in paper production is significantly reduced when organizations embrace e-signatures. 

Adopting e-signatures brings about a paradigm shift in promoting sustainability by significantly reducing paper consumption, conserving resources, and minimizing environmental impact. It also allows organizations to embrace digital transformation while prioritizing environmental responsibility, leading us toward a greener and more sustainable future.

Time and Cost Saving 

Sustainability isn’t the only reason to evaluate a company’s paper usage. For example, just looking for paper files can take as much as 40% of an office worker’s time. An estimated 20% of print jobs are never retrieved from printers, leaving sensitive data available to anyone who passes by. Traditional signing processes can be time-consuming and costly, involving printing, mailing, scanning, and storage expenses. Businesses can save between  55% – 78.62% when they migrate to E-signature software from paper, taking into account material, administration, shipping, and subscription costs.

By streamlining the signing process and eliminating the need for physical document handling, e-signatures accelerate business operations. Businesses can attain up to 85% increase in productivity when they adopt E-signatures.  Moreover, the cost savings associated with paper, printing, and storage expenses can be significant for businesses of all sizes, allowing resources to be allocated to more critical areas of operation.

Better Security and Compliance 

The Nigerian Evidence Act 2011 recognizes the use of electronic signatures. Section 93(2) and (3) thereof recognize e-signatures and provide that where a rule of evidence requires a signature or provides for certain consequences if a document is not signed, then an electronic signature is permissible. 

Section 17 of Cybercrimes (Prohibition and Prevention) Act, 2015 also recognizes the use of electronic signatures in Nigeria, They are court-admissible & safe for general business use such as the purchase of goods & any other business transaction, including, employment contracts, NDA, Privacy Notices, commercial agreements, consumer agreements, shall be binding contrary to concerns about security, e-signatures offer robust encryption and authentication mechanisms that ensure the integrity and security of digitally signed documents. 

E-signatures can provide a higher security level than traditional paper-based signatures. E-signature solutions employ advanced encryption algorithms that protect the digital signature, making it virtually impossible for unauthorized parties to alter or tamper with the signed document.  Additionally, authentication measures, such as digital certificates and public-key infrastructure (PKI), verify the identity of the signatories, ensuring that the signature is legitimate and binding.

Final Thoughts 

Embracing e-signatures is not just about harnessing the convenience and efficiency of digital transformation; it is also a significant step toward building a more sustainable future. E-signatures make a positive environmental impact by eliminating reliance on paper, reducing resource consumption, and minimizing transportation-related carbon emissions, e-signatures make a positive environmental impact. By adopting e-signatures, businesses can eliminate the need for physical document movement, reducing carbon emissions and reducing carbon footprint.

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