The Paperless Office

The Costs of Using Paper

The Costs of Using Paper

To some, paper seems cheap. A standard ream of printing paper ranges from $4-8, and for people who only print a page or two from home once or twice a month, that’s pretty affordable.


The average U.S. business uses much more than 1-2 pages a month, however, and costs associated with using paper in the workplace add up quickly.


Following are our working figures for calculating the cost of paper annually, per employee:

  • The average office worker uses 20 reams of copy paper annually @ $6 ream. Paper = $120/employee
  • The average cost of black ink is $.04/page ($.13/page for color). Ink = $520/employee
  • Assuming 5% of your paper is mailed. 500 pages mailed in 83 envelopes. Postage = $36/employee
  • 2 Minutes of labor for each mailed envelope @ $10/hour. Labor = $27.39/employee
  • 14,080 pieces of paper fit into the average file cabinet. Assuming 5% of your paper is filed and stored for 3 years equals 1,500 pages/employee. At $27/month sq foot rent the cost of a file cabinet is $54. Annual Storage = $60.72/employee.


Total Cost Annually  = $764.11/employee


Add up these cost estimates and the cost of the average employee’s paper use in the United States totals $764.11/employee annually. Suddenly, it becomes easier to see how U.S. businesses spend $120Billion annually on forms alone. For consumers using only small quantities of paper annualy, paper is cheap. For businesses, paper is anything but.