“Please print responsibly.”


“Please print responsibly.” It’s an adage most of us have had as part of our email signature for years. Yet, more than eighty percent of U.S. based corporations are still using paper signatures according to a recent survey by IDC.

In today’s Adobe Document Cloud announcement, senior vice president and general manager, Kevin Lynch says the pervasiveness of disconnected document processes are a drag on financial results and productivity. I couldn’t agree more, and as Adobe’s sustainability strategist, I have to add that paper workflows also place an enormous strain on our natural resources.

Adobe has a solid history of managing our business sustainably. This applies to our products, as well as our workspaces. Remember the old-school Acrobat boxed software? Well, by delivering Adobe Document Cloud digitally, we reduced its environmental footprint at least 91%[i]. If you are having a hard time transitioning out of boxed software, it is important to know that the Document Cloud is much more efficient, secure, and uses a lot less resources to deliver than it’s boxed predecessor.

But it is not just in the delivery of this product, it is how Document Cloud can help you and your business reduce resource consumption, waste, and costs.

Let’s examine the potential environmental opportunity

In 2014, we conservatively estimate that Adobe Reader was opened well over 4 billion times to view PDF files. To understand the environmental impact, let’s say that all of those PDFs were printed. If that were the case, we would have wasted:

  • 2 billion pounds of paper
  • 17 million trees
  • 11.4 billion gallons of water
  • enough electricity to keep a city the size of Cambridge, England powered for one year [ii]

Clearly, there’s a massive environmental opportunity in creating, editing, signing and securely storing documents digitally — and keeping them digital.

Taking a realistic step toward a seamless, digital workflow

In his blog post, Transforming Adobe PDF’s line upJon Perera, our vice president of product management, says, “It’s crazy that in the year 2015, organizations are still using fax, paper, and overnight envelopes to get important documents signed.  Our research shows that 98% of all contracts in North America are still done on paper.”

It is crazy. Why is this happening?  One reasonable argument is that the tools aren’t simple enough to use or don’t integrate seamlessly into everyday workflows. But if we look at what Adobe Document Cloud eSign services (formerly known as Adobe EchoSign) alone has already done for our customers, the potential for reducing our environmental impact is obvious.

In 2014, Adobe customers who used Adobe’s e-sign services to replace their paper workflow saved an estimated total of:

  • 31 million pounds of wood equal to about 8,000 tons of paper – or about 131,750 trees
  • 89 million gallons of water
  • 7.5 million pounds of waste
  • and $42.5 million in paper and printing costs [iii]

Now, imagine the environmental benefits if all organizations used Adobe Document Cloud. Check out Adobe’s Resource Saver Calculator to see what it might save for your business.

Let’s face it — when it comes to documents, paper waste can be avoided, now more than ever.  Any organization, large or small, that wants to save money and not have to deal with reams of paper, ink cartridges, printers, file cabinets and recycling bins, Adobe Document Cloud can help.


[i] Methodology: To estimate the footprint savings moving from non-server based software to server-based software, we used the public Cloud Energy and Emissions Research (CLEER) Model and the study described in The Energy Efficiency of cloud-based software developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Northwestern University.  Depending on the client (workstation, laptop, tablet, smartphone) used by the enduser, we estimate:
  • Paper to non-server based software: greater than 70% reduction
  • Non-server to server based (cloud): at least a 87% reduction average
  • Cumulative paper to cloud: can result in greater than 91% reduction in carbon emissions

[ii] Per the Adobe GreenMeter, documents are calculated as 5 copies of a 5 page contract, or 5 pages per PDF.  Source: Calculations are based on the papercalculator.org v 3.2. The Paper Calculator was developed and operated by the Environmental Defense Fund, now under ownership of the, Environmental Paper Network. Equivalencies per the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

[iii] Cost to print a page from TechAdvisory = $0.03-$0.06 (dependent on ink, paper, printer, etc.). We use a value lower than this at $0.0274.


Posted on 03-16-2015

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