Zurich reduces internal paper consumption

Woman hugs a tree.

Zurich reduces internal paper consumption

On the way to a paperless office: Zurich Switzerland is becoming increasingly sustainable. Compared with 2015, the insurance company has reduced its internal paper consumption by almost 87 percent. And since spring 2020, Zurich Switzerland has only used recycled paper internally.
Paper storage.

Sustainable operation is a key concern for Zurich Switzerland. One aspect of this is the reduction of paper consumption for internal purposes. "Compared with 2015, we have been able to reduce paper consumption by almost 87 percent already: in 2015, 32 million documents were printed out. In 2021, the figure was just 4.2 million," says Antonio Atorino, Sustainability Manager for Corporate Real Estate & Logistic Services at Zurich Switzerland. "We have made employees aware of the topic and have offered tips in relation to the use of documents. Numerous activities have also been digitalized." In addition, the mind-set of employees has undergone a considerable change, and documents for meetings are now only viewed electronically. 

What's more, Zurich Switzerland switched its paper purchasing practice in 2020, moving from "FSC-certified paper from sustainable forestry to Balance Pure paper, which is made entirely from old paper," says Atorino. The paper has also been awarded the "Blue Angel" quality seal. This label guarantees the highest possible use of old paper in recycled paper and the protection of forests and resources. Strict criteria must also be met with respect to the use of chemicals. 

Recycled paper is not just more sustainable, since it prolongs the life cycle of the paper, but also uses up to 70 percent less water during production. "This means that a glass of water can be saved with just two sheets of recycled paper," explains Atorino. "By switching to this new paper, Zurich Switzerland was able to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions from paper consumption by 20 percent."

As well as for paper for internal purposes, a switch was also made in 2020 for paper for high-quality printed items such as invitations, business cards and customer brochures. "For these print products, we use more sustainable "Munken" paper from Sweden, which uses 75 percent less water for production." In addition, waste water from the factory is of drinking water quality, and all waste that is generated during production is recycled or used for energy extraction.

As a next step, Zurich Switzerland is assessing how and when documents and invoices that are sent directly to our customers from the "printing line" can be printed on sustainable paper. 

In 2015, 32 million documents were printed out. In 2021, the figure was just 4.2 million.

Antonio Atorino, Operations Sustainability Specialist