By Danny Molhoek, Managing Director & Country General Manager UK/Ireland, Lexmark

In the light of the global economic recession, green and eco-initiatives took second place to cost cutting for many companies. However, sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) remain an important part of every organisation's overall strategy, often going hand in hand.

Currently many businesses only consider sustainability in terms of compliance and as part of an annual report. For businesses to be recognised widely as sustainable, they need to be viewing sustainability at every level.

Often, such green initiatives are done at a macro level, looking at things like cutting building power usage or emissions from factories. However, there is a lot that can be done at a lower level to help cut waste and boost a company's eco-credentials. These include actions by each individual employee and best-practice processes that can streamline the business in an energy-efficient way.

A simple and highly effective way of reducing waste – and cutting costs and improving efficiency at the same time – is to address the use of paper in the business. Every organisation still requires a certain amount of printed material to help drive the business. From day-to-day desk work to marketing and communication right through to supply chain management and billing, there is usually some paper involved. However, while the vision of the paperless office may not be in sight, the 'less-paper' business is a very real possibility and one that can create real change in the business.

At its lowest level, this approach means making small changes, such as double-sided printing and Print Release by default.

Moving up a level, content digitisation solutions can not only improve and automate processes, it can also reduce transfer and storage of paper documents.

Looking outside the business itself, these projects can be augmented with the help of the wider supply chain. When a business ensures partners are also being eco-responsible and can source and distribute as locally as possible, this helps build credibility and has a massive impact on the environment as well as local economies.

At every level, these types of initiatives don't need to be massive, complex and costly undertakings. In fact, many are simple and cheap, and a large number will help cut costs, improve efficiency and boost trust.

By taking this holistic approach a company can show its employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders and the wider world that it takes the environment and its corporate social responsibility seriously.