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Seriously about sustainability

A new study by Maija Tenhunen and Esko Penttinen about the carbon footprint   of invoicing reveals that the paper based process generates as much as 450g on average and electronic invoice can go as low as 150g. 300 sustainability reasons to go digital every time an invoice is sent – translated to EU today this equals over 8 million tons.

So it is not only the mega class improvements in productivity, service levels and job content – but also the environment.

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Electronic invoice is more efficient and also better for the environment


The carbon footprint of an electronic invoice is considerably smaller than that of a paper invoice. A paper invoice generates approximately 450 grams of greenhouse gases, while an electronic invoice can generate as little as 150. This information comes from a study recently published by the Federation of Finnish Financial Services.

In addition to the environmental benefits, switching to e-invoices frees resources, making a company more efficient. In an example company in the study, Finncontainer, only half of the time spent in the processing of paper invoices was required for e-invoices. Such freed resources can be used, for example, to improve customer service.

On average, e-invoices are four times more environmentally-friendly than paper invoices. The study revealed, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, that the largest difference is not made through paper saving and electric distribution, but rather through the time-saving that makes work more efficient. Electronic invoicing changes every step of the invoicing process, in both incoming and outgoing invoices. In processing paper invoices, approximately 60% of emissions are generated by work, while in e-invoices this number is 99%.

Of emissions related to paper invoices, approximately 40% are generated by paper, envelopes, printing, franking and distribution. These are eliminated or automated in e-invoices, which also shows in the carbon footprint.

Small and medium-sized enterprises that seek to reduce costs by switching to invoices in PDF format are not gaining the most important benefits of electronic invoices. Formats such as Finvoice are better for gaining the efficiency and environmental benefits shown in the study.

The study, published by the Federation, was conducted in cooperation with various partners. Background research and analysis of invoicing processes were done in Aalto University. Natural Interest Ltd calculated the carbon footprints, and, as recommended by the Federation of Finnish Enterprises, Finncontainers Ltd was used as an example in the case study. The State Treasury took part in the project by representing a large organisation and a typical cooperation partner of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Environmentally-friendly electronic invoice -study (Executive Summary in English, Study in Finnish)


Additional information:

Federation of Finnish Financial Services: 
eServices Developent Manager Pirjo Ilola, tel. +358 20 793 4255
Communications Manager Kristiina Siikala, tel.+358 20 793 4273

Aalto University: 
Research Assistant Maija Tenhunen, tel. +358 50 3289 536
Assistant Professor Esko Penttinen, tel. +358 40 575 4520

Natural Interest Ltd:
Managing Director Jonne Hellgren, tel. +358 40 574 6031

Finncontainers Ltd:
Managing Director Sarianne Reinikkala,tel. +358 29 123 4334

Payments Specialist Kristiina Seppälä, tel. +358 50 430 5391


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Bo Harald

Bo Harald

Chairman/Founding member, board member

Transmeri, Demos, Real Time Economy Program,MyData

Member since

04 Nov 2008


Helsinki Region

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