Electronic invoicing is efficient and environmentally friendly
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.