Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett launched a paper and printing reduction initiative in fiscal year (FY) 2010 that has successfully reduced the environmental impact of government operations while saving County taxpayers more than $6.3 million. Compared to paper usage in FY2008, the amount of paper used by County agencies (except the Board of Elections) was reduced by 22 percent in FY 2010 and by 39 percent in FY2011. Printing and mail expenditures, compared to FY2009 levels, were reduced in FY 2010 by $3,026,420, a 50 percent reduction, and in FY2011 by $3,305,299, a 55 percent reduction. Expenditures for printing and mailing in FY2009 were $6,061,000.
“The challenging budget situation Montgomery County has faced for several years has forced us to rethink many of the ways in which the government does business -- and in many instances, this has been a good thing, leading to increased efficiencies in our operations,” said Leggett. “By radically rethinking our paper use and printing, we are not only saving taxpayers millions of dollars, but we are also benefiting the environment by creating less waste and reducing the unnecessary use of our precious natural resources.”
n September, CountyStat calculated the cumulative environmental benefits from paper use reductions achieved in FY2010 and FY2011:
• Saved 3.8 million trees;
• Reduced energy use equivalent to that used by 61,000 homes;
• Reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to what is generated by 92,000 cars a year;
• Reduced 11,700 garbage trucks of trash; and
• Reduced 5,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools of wastewater.
Several County departments were highlighted as success stories. Some examples are listed below:
• The Office of Consumer Protection switched to online availability of hearing case files, each of which was typically between 100 to more than 500 pages, and licensing application and renewals. Overall, their efforts reduced paper use from FY2008 to FY2011 by 84 percent.
• Public Libraries encouraged patrons to switch to email notification for reserve items. It also now relies on online availability for administrative reports, manuals, minutes, reader’s advisory lists, training and policy initiatives, and other documents. From FY2008 to FY2011, they reduced paper use 57 percent.
• The Department of Recreation reduced the number of Recreation Guides it prints each year, instead offering subscriptions so only enough guides for subscribers are printed. Recreation also provides the option to purchase memberships for pools and gyms online. It reduced printing and mailing expenditures from FY2008 to FY2011 by 71 percent.
The County’s Department of Environmental Protection is making staff available to provide assistance to other departments on ways to improve their reduction efforts. In addition, the Department of General Services now purchases all paper on behalf of County departments, thereby ensuring lowest possible costs through bulk purchasing while also ensuring that paper contains up to 50 percent recycled content. General Services is also renegotiating copier contracts to improve printing capabilities and further reduce overall paper use.
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