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What is the Cost of Paper?

What is the cost of paper? Or better said, what is the true cost of paper? It might be higher than you think. Read on to discover some of the hidden costs of paper and how you can eliminate them.

Article Summary:

  • Cost of Paper: More than Meets the Eye
  • Printing Costs with Paper
  • Add Storage Costs
  • Add Staff Time
  • Adding Up the Cost of Paper
  • Jump to our recommendation »

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Cost of Paper: More than Meets the Eye

How much does a piece of paper cost? That's fairly easy to figure out if we know how much a case of paper costs, or how much a ream of paper costs.

Then again, is it really that simple? Perhaps there's a better question: how much does paper really cost? We tend to hyper-focus on the least significant element: the actual cost per page or ream. In fact, paper levies tremendous costs on businesses, costs that can be avoided with better practices and the judicious use of paperless office software.

In this article, we go over some of the hidden costs associated with paper.

Printing Costs with Paper

We may know the exact cost of that sheet of paper that just shot through the printer. But what about the ancillary costs that come with printing? In some cases, the ancillary costs outweigh the cost of the paper itself.

First, the price of the toner. The cost of toner per page varies widely, depending on the scanner. For black and white laser printing, you may be paying anywhere from $0.02 to $0.08 per printed page. For color laser printing, that cost shoots up sharply.

Next factor in the cost of the printer itself. If you own the printer outright, amortize the monthly cost of the printer over its lifetime then factor in the volume of printing you do per month. You can pretty easily arrive at a rough cost per page for the hardware.

Add up the cost of the paper with the cost of toner and the cost of the hardware, and you begin to get a picture of the actual cost of paper.

But there's more ...

Add Storage Costs

A significant proportion of the paper we buy ends up in storage. One might argue that much of the paper leaves on outbound shipments or in correspondence, except that we typically field an equal amount inbound. The end result is that much of the paper we buy must be stored. As such, we can't accurately estimate paper cost without considering the costs of storing that paper.

The cost of a single filing cabinet varies from about $175 for an upright cabinet to over $600 for a lateral cabinet. Paper, however, doesn't simply sit in a cabinet. It hangs, in folders. So add to the storage cost: hanging file folders, manila folders, tabs, and labels.

The storage costs don't stop there. These cabinets take up floor space, and your office floor space comes at a cost per square foot. In some companies, where whole wings are devoted to filing cabinets, these costs become significant.

Add Staff Time

Most companies have a pretty good estimate of the average cost of office supplies per employee. What they tend to overlook is how the employee's time factors in.

Consider the typical filing clerk. This staff member works full time printing, sorting, filing, and retrieving paper. So while we've already looked at how much it costs to send a piece of paper through a printer, we haven't factored in how much it costs to have an employee send that paper through the printer. Then collate it. Then stamp and staple it. Then file it. Then retrieve it. In fact, one print job can represent calculable minutes of employee time along with the associated salary costs.

Adding Up the Cost of Paper

Once you start to add up all of the pieces, you quickly discover that the actual costs of paper represent a huge burden on businesses. We've provided a cost of paper calculator to help you figure out how much paper is costing you.

Is there a way out from under these costs? Absolutely. The right paperless office software and better practices can trim down those costs considerably.

Our Recommendation: How to Reduce the Cost of Paper in Your Office

To minimize the cost of paper on your business, we highly recommend FileCenter, the paperless office software of choice. It has features aimed specifically at businesses seeking to reduce costs associated with paper and improve efficiencies. Download a free trial today!

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