As you may have heard, we here at Wells Fargo are doing our best to encourage our customers to switch to paper-free products, like our Envelope-FreeSM ATMs and online banking options. What you might not have heard is that we're also focusing on reducing our own paper behind the scenes as well.
Being a financial services company, we use more paper per day than the average office worker. In fact, the Michigan Department of the Environment estimates that a bank like Wells Fargo can generate up to 2 pounds of paper waste per team member per day, compared to an average of 1.5 pounds per employees in other industries. The Environmental Paper Network estimates that if the average U.S.-based office cut paper use by just 10%, it would help prevent the emission of 1.6 million tons of greenhouse gases or the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road for a full year.
So as part of our commitment to "green up" our own operations while also building a culture of sustainability with our team members, we're focusing on ways to reduce paper in our store operations. Our Sustainability Agent program has helped us to find some innovative ways to manage paper waste. For example:
- Jennifer Bocchino, one of our agents in Arizona, took a small step that created a huge impact. Her store uses a sign-in sheet to help organize customer visits. Now, instead of throwing the sheet away each day, her store uses one sheet that is laminated for reuse. That may seem like a small step, but think about her paper savings over a year. If just one-half of our 5,000+ store network took this step for a year, we’d save over 750,000 sheets of paper. (Note: We calculated this savings assuming that each of the 2,500 stores would use about 300 sheets of paper a year if they were using a daily sign-in sheet.)
- Our Sustainability Agent team in Colorado introduced a new way to process daily teller receipts. Rather than putting the receipts into envelopes that needed to be opened (and hopefully recycled) at the end of the day, our agents suggested eliminating the envelope and just sorting directly from the drawer. This process not only saves resources, but also time, as it makes it quicker to account for receipts and cash at the end of the day.
- Conor McDonald, one of our Sustainability Agents in Washington State, is always on the look-out for ways to reduce paper and print responsibly at work. From using biodegradable cups in the break room to printing (only when necessary) double-sided on 100% recycled content paper to encouraging customers who visit his store to use online banking options, Conor is helping to make his banking store a good ecological steward in an area that cares deeply about the environment.
- Tami Rearwin, a Service Manager and Sustainability Agent in Washington State, is helping the store IT team design a fully automated process for teller line referrals, streamlining the process of recording customer visits from using a paper journal and up to three online tools into just one online tool. The solution may take some time to fully develop, but we're all excited about the environmental (paper) and economic (improved customer service and increased teller efficiency) impact that will likely come about when this change is fully implemented.
So those are a few behind the scenes solutions that we're working on, but we'd love to hear feedback and more ideas from you! Please let us know how you think we can reduce paper waste and improve your Wells Fargo in-store banking experience. We're listening!