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The Environmental Costs of Fax

 In Blog, Fax, Productivity, Security, Technology

Fax still forms the communications backbone of many industries (especially healthcare) for a variety of reasons, including regulatory and security concerns. However, traditional analog fax machines can be very wasteful environmentally as well as financially. The good news is that there’s a way your organization can have your cake and eat it too, continuing to do the faxing you need while improving both monetary and environmental costs.


The Financial Cost of Traditional Fax

Traditional fax machines require power, paper, and toner to do their job. The machines themselves need to be manufactured, as do replacement parts due to wear and tear and the machines’ inherent unreliability).

An average Fortune 500 company may spend millions of dollars per year on paper, toner, energy, and fax hardware. Assuming they’ve assigned a dedicated phone line to each machine, they’re also spending more than $25/month per copper line.

Believe it or not, most of these costs can be completely avoided with the right tools.


The Environmental Cost of Traditional Fax

These monetary costs bring environmental ones with them. Paper, toner, and parts all need to be manufactured. Their raw materials need to be acquired and delivered to factories. Then the finished products all need to be transported to depots, and from there to customers. Even if the paper and portions of toner cartridges or parts can be recycled, they still need to be transported from consumers to recycling facilities, and then further energy must be spent processing them.

Each year fax machines consume approximately 200 billion pieces of paper.

Mountains of Paper

It has been estimated that each year fax machines consume approximately 200 billion pieces of paper (Cox).

Even if every piece of paper is made from recycled fiber, and is then itself recycled, the environmental impact of paper transport, processing, and toner remains significant.

It’s unlikely that most organizations need every single incoming fax to be printed. Fax spam continues to be a problem leading to significant costs over time. Many desirable faxes end up being more efficient and secure if they’re received and stored digital form.

A quality Fax over IP solution can deliver faxes directly to recipients’ workstations, allowing them to be viewed on screens, and then printed if necessary. An additional benefit is that faxes are kept securely behind a login screen rather than sitting in an unattended tray for anyone to read. This can be a particularly important consideration if your organization is bound by regulations like HIPAA, FERPA, or SOX.

Power Drain

Traditional fax machines are dedicated devices with their own energy needs. The average drain of a single business fax machine is 84kWh per year (LG&E), which translates to approximately 59.4kg of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere (US Environmental Protection Agency, 2018).

Consolidating your faxing to other devices that are already in use for other purposes can reduce electrical costs. Instead of utilizing a fax machine and an MFP or a fax machine and workstations, Fax over IP allows you to shift all fax communications to workstations and/or MFPs.


Even Small Steps Matter

By switching the way your organization communicates documents you’ll be making a difference while improving your balance sheet, a great win-win. Depending on how your organization interfaces with the public, you may also be able to harness these changes for PR, newsletters, or other halo effect/brand awareness campaigns.


XM Fax: The FoIP Solution that Drops Pollution

XM Fax is the industry-leading software-only fax over IP solution. By eliminating the dedicated machine, instead augmenting the MFPs and computers your organization is already using for other tasks, it dramatically reduces the costs of fax. No longer do you need to receive every incoming fax as a printed page. Staff can also fax electronic documents directly from computers or mobile devices, without printing them first.

Reach out to us to learn more about how XM Fax can streamline workflows, drop costs, and help your organization take important steps toward reducing your carbon footprint.




Works Cited

Cox, D. (n.d.). The Facts on Fax. Stream, 1(2). Retrieved from Stream:

LG&E. (n.d.). Watt Finders Guide. Retrieved from Louisville Gas & Electric Company:

US Environmental Protection Agency. (2018, December). Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. Retrieved from EPA.gov:

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