Turning Paper Waste Into Opportunity

Departments Across Campus Build a More Mindful BU

waste paper

Paper makes up 27% of municipal solid waste in the U.S., more than any other material that Americans throw away. As an institution of higher education, paper is a critical component of Boston University’s functionality, used in administrative offices for nearly 10,000 faculty and staff. In the past year, departments across campus have transformed sources of paper waste into sustainable opportunity.

Collective paper waste reduction efforts by the Office of the Comptroller, Payroll and Payment Services, and Marketing and Communications streamline everyday operations and reduce the University’s carbon footprint as a whole.

Recently, the Office of the Comptroller moved in a sustainable direction by reducing paper waste across a number of programs. With new electronic options for vendor payment, W-2 forms, employee reimbursement, and payroll payment, the number of paper checks used in processing is minimized.

Online systems help expedite processing payments and cashing checks instantaneously, and allow employees to achieve faster tax returns through the use of paperless W-2 tax documents. It is also a major time saver for the Payroll Office, as they no longer have to print excess copies for misplaced paperwork. Electronic options for invoicing, forms, tax documents, and vendor registration also save time and excess paperwork. These changes are not only environmentally suitable, but also help employees save time and receive reimbursements faster.

The Office of the Comptroller also manages Concur, an online system used to book travel and expense reports. Concur is also available through a mobile app for iPhone that allows employees to access information and report expense and travel needs on the go.

“The mobile app is easy to use on the go and allows employees to both submit and approve expenses while not at their desk… also allowing users to take photos of receipts so they are not lost,” according to Matt Abrams, associate comptroller of Accounts Payable.

This new electronic system of accounting has received positive reviews, alleviating stress and excess paperwork for business trips, improving accuracy and convenience of reporting anywhere, anytime.

The University’s Marketing and Communications team also continues to play a role in reducing paper waste, led by production manager Charles Alfier. Despite initial concerns about paper quality during the transition away from 25% cotton letterheads, Alfier led a successful and efficient implementation of 100% post-consumer waste (PCW) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified stationery for all letterheads, business cards, and business envelopes.

Together, the individual paper-saving efforts made across departments help to reduce the University’s waste and carbon footprint – small, mindful steps building strong momentum towards a more sustainable BU.

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