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How Purchase to Pay Contributes to Sustainability

Thursday, February 14, 2019

5 minute read

How Purchase to Pay Contributes to Sustainability

Regina Duzanskaja,

VP of Corporate Development, Basware

In 2019, CO2 emissions are higher than ever – steadily inclining ever since the industrial revolution.


With carbon dioxide levels the highest they’ve ever been, companies are recognizing their impact on the environment and looking for ways to enact sustainable business practices. Through the powers of technology and automation, organizations can begin taking concrete steps towards reducing their carbon footprints by huge amounts.

An Abbreviated History of CO2 Emissions

Historically, before the Industrial Revolution, the average level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere was at 280 parts per million (ppm). Ever since then, numbers have skyrocketed upward, with the most recent CO2 readings from 2019 coming in at an shocking 410 ppm. If businesses are to grow, more sustainable options must be adopted in order to ensure this tremendous increase in CO2 levels is controlled.

An Abbreviated History of CO2 Emissions

From “This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.)”

By far the largest source of human-induced carbon emissions is the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gasoline, diesel, and natural gas. But other human habits have contributed to the increase – like using paper in business processes.

Paper Takes Its Toll

As we all learned in grade-school, plants and trees play a huge role in keeping CO2 emissions in check. CO2 from the air + water = plant sugars. In other words, trees and plants use CO2 to live. When we use trees to create paper, the CO2 stored in the tree carries into the paper product. And when that paper reaches the end of its life-cycle, it’s sent off to a landfill or incinerated, thus producing further greenhouse gases like CO2 as it breaks down.

When we produce and dispose of these paper products at a faster pace than the plants and trees can consume the CO2, we create an overabundance of CO2 in our atmosphere. Too much reliance on paper = excess CO2 in the environment. But you didn’t come here for a science lesson.

So, take a look around your office. If you’re still receiving paper invoices by mail or getting a PDF invoice by email, printing it out, and then re-entering the information by hand into your system, there’s a better way to improve your processes and help reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.

Basware Powered Purchase-to-Pay Processes Cuts Carbon by 40%

The answer is automation—electronic purchase to pay (P2P) services are a clear winner over paper-based, manual processes. To learn just how much digitizing finance and procurement can help with sustainability, Basware teamed up with sustainability consulting agency 3keel to complete a CO2 emission study of Basware and to analyze scientific and industry reports on how kicking the paper habit affects climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

Through the study, Basware processes were proven to reduce carbon footprint by approximately 40%. So just think about how much your company could decrease its own carbon footprint through adopting sustainably solutions like e-invoicing, S2P automation, and a holistic digitization of your organization’s processes. The more businesses that think this way, the less affect we’ll have on increasing CO2.

We also discovered that increasing the adoption of cloud computing will also increase energy efficiencies and that in the future, electricity grid decarbonization will decrease CO2 emissions by moving towards renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

How to Make a Difference with Digital Purchase to Pay

First and foremost, the obvious answer is the more automated your processes are, the less paper that is required to support your business.  

  • Get rid of an over-reliance of paper and reduce your contribution to CO2 emissions, while reaping the benefits of cost savings and efficiency.

Secondly, like stated earlier, the largest source of human-induced CO2 emissions comes from using coal, oil, gasoline, diesel. So, start considering how a digital workplace can enable other sustainable business practices:  

  • A digital process means you can encourage some of your teams to work remotely for a day or a few per week. Working from home decreases emissions from one of the costliest contributors of the carbon problem—transportation. Every gallon of fuel burned creates about 20 pounds (or 9 kilograms) of carbon dioxide.

  • Cloud computing means less infrastructure is required to power your business from a hardware and IT perspective. So that means fewer servers and less equipment are needed, decreasing CO2 emissions produced from those items.

  • Efficient procurement processes enable bundled orders and shipments, meaning less pollution from fewer deliveries and less packaging materials needed.

  • Connecting to a business network means you can identify new sustainable suppliers and source goods and materials from companies that share your values.

  • Funding for other sustainability measures can be generated from the cost savings you realize with going digital.

So, it’s not only about the paper, it’s about an overall more efficient way of operating. The less working hours you spend on the P2P process, the less energy you need, leading to less emissions.

Why Basware Offers the Most Sustainable Solution

The majority of Basware’s emissions savings come from our digital invoice handling solutions. Basware solutions offer buyers and suppliers more ways to send and receive their invoices in formats that works for them—exponentially growing adoption rates for both parties. And when there’s no supplier cost or change required on their end, it’s even easier for suppliers to make the switch to digital. This means we make it easier for you to quit paper, automate more of your process, and adhere to sustainable business practices. You realize significant efficiency gains and cost savings, a more organized AP department, less errors, and overall operational improvement. Going digital saves both time and money – manual processing can cost anywhere from $3-7 (€2-6) per invoice.

Here’s just a few ways we make sending and receiving electronic invoices a feasible way to reduce CO2 emissions:  

Ready to learn more?

Basware is dedicated to finding more sustainable ways for customers to perform business. Learn more in our ebook Exception Handling in the Digital Age and read the Billentis 2017 E-Invoicing/E-Billing report to learn about the average adoption of e-invoicing in various global markets.