Posted 1st August 2022
A summer of record-breaking heatwaves has put climate change and the need for greater sustainability firmly back under the spotlight. Organisations across all sectors have been reviewing their own journeys towards net zero.
The drive to becoming sustainable invariably leads decision-makers to the big ticket initiatives such as renewably-sourced energy, electric vehicles, ramped up recycling practices and investments in everything from LED lightbulbs to solar panel systems. And yet, hovering just beneath the radio waves emitted by eco-conscious radars is a functionality that can deliver surprisingly impactful results: e-signatures.
In this blog, we’ll look at this modern innovation in detail and how it is helping organisations reach their sustainability goals.
Commonly referred to also as electronic signatures, an e-signature is a legally-binding digital stamp, usually in the form of a digitally rendered signature and is sent over an e-sign platform. Our platform allows you to place the e-signature onto digital documents such as contracts and agreements and transmit them from your computer, phone, or other internet-ready devices.
There are many practical benefits to e-signatures; . Documents can be signed and sent to relevant parties, wherever they are in the world, in a matter of seconds. They are encrypted and ensure a full audit trail, making hefty cabinets brimming with signed paperwork a thing of the past.
However, e-signatures are proving to offer more than simply convenience and security, they’re also acting as a key to unlocking much greater sustainability.
Primarily, sustainability is important to the modern business for the same reason it’s important to everyone and everything else. The rate at which our planet is warming has brought the chance of the average global temperature rising to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in the next five years down to a scary 50:50. Were this to happen, it would signify the imminence of a 2°C average temperature rise, at which point our Earth becomes a much more hostile place to live.
Businesses that are seen to be taking meaningful action to prevent this from happening can enjoy a raft of benefits, not least:
As populations have grown increasingly eco-conscious, their tolerance towards businesses that engage in environmentally harmful activity has plummeted. According to a report from ING, 61% of consumers now claim that they would be less willing to buy from a brand if it was revealed they were performing poorly on environmental practices.
All businesses need to keep one eye on the future if they want to adapt to the wants and needs of an evolving world. Studies consistently show that it’s the younger generations who care most about climate change, making these the cohorts businesses need to impress. Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability improves your chance of winning their admiration today thus their custom tomorrow.
Yes, sustainability is mostly about preventing catastrophic climate change in the future but the right measures can also deliver some more immediate benefits. Among these are less expenditure on utilities and physical resources and the capacity to work with greater speed and agility.
Winning the admiration of younger generations through sustainable practice does more than just improving your chances of turning them into customers, it improves your chances of recruiting and retaining them too. With Millennials soon to make up the majority of the global workforce and Gen Z following closely behind, your business’s sustainability endeavours could be the hook that catches and keeps the brightest minds in the pool.
The reliance on paper in the modern office is at an all-time low and many organisations only tend to use paper when producing offline resources such as brochures and leaflets. In the absence of being able to facilitate secure electronic signatures, organisations have no option but to manage stacks of physically signed documentation, and that means they must purchase reams of paper.
Purchasing paper in bulk means funding the paper industry; an industry with some of the worst eco-credentials. According to the WWF, up to 40% of all industrial wood makes its way into the production of materials such as paper, cardboard, and tissues. Where production pays little heed to sustainability, the ecological impact can be devastating.
The act of deforestation to acquire the wood needed for paper production relies on heavy plant machinery that pumps greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Such is the volume of carbon emissions created, the paper industry holds the unenviable title of third worst producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU – second only to the energy and transport sectors.
The process of then fashioning pulp and paper products releases sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere in sufficient quantities that often leads to acid rain, which disrupts the pH balance of water and soil, damaging a multitude of ecosystems.
Then there’s the sheer scale of water consumption. Water is needed at almost every stage of the paper production process, draining lakes and rivers to the point that some estimates put the amount of water needed to produce a single sheet of A4 at 10 litres.
No, really, they can. Most of us will remember how during the pandemic, with enforced working from home and major public amenities closed, the air seemed cleaner. That’s because vehicles were being used much less and CO2 emissions dropped by around 15%.
In our digitised world, the need to physically sign documents is one of the last remnants of a paper-dependent corporate world. This means that, even if all your employees work from home, where a document needs a signature, someone needs to get in their car and drive to the office to provide it.
By implementing the technology that allows an employee to e-sign a document from wherever they’re working from, you remove another car journey from the roads and all the emissions that go with it.
The scale of carbon emission reduction becomes even more stark when we consider the volume of signatures that are needed daily from people located across the country and beyond. In these situations, postal services are required that don’t just use cars and vans, they use aeroplanes too.
Although internet-based services do contribute to global emissions, it is not on the same scale as the millions of vehicles belching toxic fumes into the atmosphere every day. A move to e-signatures will mean you can eliminate some of those journeys.
If yours is a business that accrues a large volume of signatures throughout each year, switching to digital documents that can be e-signed could drastically reduce the amount of paper you need and journeys that must be made.
For example, a large law firm adopted our e-signature and digital document platform and the savings they made on paper, money, and carbon emissions were enormous.
In the 12 months following the implementation of the E-Sign platform, the law firm saved:
The latest addition to our document management platform is the E-Sign Carbon Counter. The Counter monitors how much carbon you are saving each month by using our platform and presents the results on a visually pleasing dashboard.
With each year that passes, you build a more comprehensive picture of the extent of the savings your business is making. Savings that can be used to demonstrate your ESG credentials to customers, investors, and new recruits alike.
The E-Sign platform allows you to do more than digitise signatures, slash paper usage, reduce carbon emissions, and view the positive effect you’re having on the environment in real-time. It also boosts your sustainability endeavours with:
Trusted E-Seals: It is still common practice for businesses to use official, stamped seals to prove the authenticity of documents which require or contain signatures. Using next-generation cryptography, our E-Seals are a digital replication of this practice, verifying both authenticity and origin of any digitally transferred document.
Digital Payment Processing: Processing payments represents one of the most essential undertakings any business can make and often requires the sending of documents such as invoices and receipts. Through the E-Sign platform, you can e-sign, send digital payment documents, and even integrate a payment gateway that combines multiple transactions into just one for added efficiency.
Customisable Web Forms: Depending on the nature of your business, it may be that you require customers to fill out forms as part of any transaction. E-Sign’s customisable web forms allow such forms to be completed online, eliminating further paper dependency, and providing an extra layer of convenience for your customers.
E-Sign is a leading provider of digital transaction management solutions, supplying professional services including Electronic Signatures, Web Forms, ID Checker, Verification Tools, Personalised Emails, API and Payment Processing to businesses of all sizes across the UK.
To find out more about our E-Sign solutions and how they could transform your business, get in touch with us today.