In a public office printing is one of the most important environmental impacts associated with daily operations. It is also one of the simplest environmental impacts to handle what will provide immediate environmental benefits as well as cost savings. This article contains practical green printing tips and advice.
Printing has three main environmental impacts.
The paper used for printing
Ink and toner used and
Power consumed to power the printer
The easiest way to reduce paper usage uses duplex printing. This may halve paper consumption overnight. Duplex printing can be set as a default setting on the printer or a user can specify in the print dialog on their computer that they want all prints to be double sided. If your printer does not have dual sided functionality it is possible to reinstall a print bay that supports functionality. Investment expense is paid relatively quickly from paper saving. Some older printers can not be retrofitted and therefore the only option is to invest in a new printer. If you make the decision to invest in a new printer you should source a verified waste collector that can recycle your old printer or find a charity that would benefit from getting a 2nd printer.
Other ways to reduce paper usage are investing in follow me technology that requires usage to enable its print request on the printer. Recent research suggests that 30% of print requests are never collected in the printer thus becoming waste immediately. Follow me printing technology is relatively cheap to install and will definitely save paper from print jobs never collected by the user who sent the print command.
Behavior change is also the key to reducing print volumes. Many print without thinking about whether they need the document or if they can only isolate the pages they need to print. Communicating this with staff and showing the benefits of cost savings is a great way to change behavior. Adding a simple message at the end of an email for example Consider the environment before printing this email has been shown to reduce the number of printed emails.
Finally most offices have loads of scrap paper that only print on one side. This paper can be used as scrap paper for people to scratch on tanks or actually use in a free tray in the printer for single sided scrap printing.
Note When buying paper consider using recycled paper as it has a lower environmental impact in production. Also make sure that the paper is from a sustainable source this can be identified by the FSC Forest Stewardship Council.
Ink and toner
Ink and toner are critical components of the printing process they are also very dangerous. By reducing the amount of printing you can also reduce the amount of ink and toner used. Nevertheless if you need to print you can not prevent ink and toner.
To reduce the impact of ink and toner we suggest that you make good purchasing decisions and ensure that waste containers and toner cartridges are properly disposed of. The former requires purchasing colors and tones that are vegetable. Nowadays most ink and toner are vegetable but it is worth checking the environmental instructions of your ink and toner manufacturer.
Waste management of ink and toner should be carried out by a verified waste container and properly recycled. Most ink cartridges and toner cartridges can be recycled. Again contact your printer supplier or ink toner manufacturer on their recycling features
Printers consume a lot of energy when they are running. Reducing the amount of printing required will reduce your energy consumption helping to reduce your carbon footprint and save on electricity costs.
Most modern printers have energy saving settings that allow users to set the printer to enter a deep sleep mode when not in use. Check if your printer has the correct settings and if you do not remove the printer's manual and set the energy saving parameters that suit your organization. A good benchmark is that a printer will go into sleep mode after 15 minutes of use.
Most leave their printers overnight on the weekend and over the holiday periods. These periods can lead to a standby loss of energy. A good solution is to install a timer switch to the printer plug which can automatically turn off a printer in the evenings or over periods when the printer is not in use for extended periods of time.