Telecommunication firms in the UAE say they are reducing operating costs while helping the environment by encouraging customers to opt for electronic billing. Moving to eBills for consumers could also mean a lot less time spent shredding paid monthly phone bills before the garbage is put out to the curb.
The e-trend couldn’t be more timely given that today is World Paperless Day, a movement sponsored by Environment Agency Abu Dhabi which says 147,930 people have committed to the paperless cause in general within the UAE. “Approximately 900 million trees are cut down annually,” leading to paper products that “constitute 40 percent of our waste stream,” the agency says.
Telecom etisalat confirmed yesterday that it is ramping up efforts for paperless billing now being offered to customers across all services from mobile and television to landline telephony as an alternative to standard monthly bills delivered to home or workplace.
Ali Al Ahmad, etisalat’s chief corporate communications officer, said the new push for electronic billing is in keeping with etisalat’s commitment for an environmentally safe and sustainable business model. “Etisalat is committed to delivering customer-friendly and convenient solutions by enabling technology to suit our customer’s varied needs,” Al Ahmad told Gulf News on Tuesday. “Etisalat’s eBilling service reinforces our efforts in contributing to preserving the environment and promoting sustainability, in line with the Abu Dhabi Vision for 2030.”
The effort is making real gains for etisalat, which will be saving by reducing the high costs of printing and mailing paper bills to customers. “Since we implemented free-of-charge eBilling, the convenient and environmentally-friendly solution has been well received,” said Al Ahmad. “At present we save over 16 tonnes of paper per year, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint and lower operational costs.” Fareed Faraidooni, chief commercial officer of du, said more people are signing up for the electronic bill option.
“Almost a quarter of our customers have opted in to our eBill only service, which is a nice gain from only 15 percent three months back,” Faraidooni told Gulf News yesterday. “We would of course love to see all of our customers opt out of paper bills in favour of eBills, which would save approximately 17,000 trees per year.”
Available to all du postpaid customers for mobile and home services, Faraidooni said du is encouraging “more of our customers to use this service in order to help us reduce our environmental impact. eBills also arrive up to one week sooner than paper bills do, making them the more convenient option.” He said that “opting out of paper bills is optional. Customers can choose to opt in to eBill only by SMSing their email address to 5150, or by visiting our selfcare website.”
In its 2011 Sustainability Report, du pointed out that: With an average of four pages per paper-based consumer bill, our 400,000 postpaid customers would consume 19 million sheets.
”Organisers from Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, said that last year’s World Paperless Day initiative in the UAE saw the involvement of more than 200 organisations which cut paper use for the day, reducing an estimated 4,290 kilogrammes of CO2 emissions. In a statement, the agency said ultimately, “paperless day is about preventing existing trees from being cut.”
Since last year’s event, organisations involved in the UAE Paperless Day have adopted several measures in offices to save paper around the year.
As much as 80 percent of the recorded paper documents that are printed and filed are never referenced again. The agency cited one study conducted by Xerox that suggested in the “US, an average office workers prints approximately 10,000 to 12,000 sheets [of paper] annually.”
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