8 Steps to sustainable printing

8 steps for SMEs to implement sustainable printing practices

8 Steps to sustainable printing

SMEs looking to get sustainability savvy might be pleasantly surprised to find that something as basic as a printer could provide substantial eco benefits, supporting the company’s triple bottom line. In fact, new research by Quocirca, a European analyst firm, commissioned by global technology leader, Epson, found that today more effective management of printing infrastructure is an easy way for SMEs to make quick and substantial savings.

While some SMEs are leading the way when it comes to replacing laser printers with more energy efficient inkjet printers (30% of SMEs compared to 22% of large enterprises) , they are falling behind larger enterprises when it comes to effectively managing their print environment, according to the research, and this comes at a time when 53% of SMEs are reporting an increase in colour print volumes.  Excessive use of consumables (including ink, toner, paper and energy) is one example of an undermanaged resource in SMEs – one that can be a huge source of waste with a substantial impact on the triple bottom line. The good news for SMEs, however, is that this doesn’t have to be the case.

By following just eight simple steps, SME’s can move a step closer to a more sustainable print operating model.

  1.  Assess current environmental impact – Understand your company’s eco footprint as a first step to implement change. Many managed print service (MPS) providers offer environmental or carbon footprint calculators that help make it easy, for example Epson’s Print 365 offer provides tailored print packages for specific business needs.
  2.  Consider consolidated devices – Consolidate scanning, printing and copying into one machine with a Multifunction Peripheral (MFP) to lower costs. This reduces the number of machines and types of consumables that need to be purchased, and the number of resources to manage.
  3. Purchase energy-efficient equipment – Purchase products which meet eco-labelling qualifications, including Blue Angel and ENERGY STAR (up to 40% more energy efficient products). Fast warm-up times and toner-saving modes are most efficient.  
  4. Secure pull printing – Put in place secure printing via a smart card or pin to release documents from the printer. Documents which are printed and never collected currently comprise the biggest source print waste.
  5. Establish rules-based printing – Set up print rules based on job attributes (e.g. number of pages, colour, booklet printing) to print the document from the most cost-efficient device. Limiting overuse of high-cost per page devices (e.g. colour printers) minimises consumable usage. 
  6. Integrate paper and digital workflow with MFPs – Implement an MFP to enable direct scanning of documents to the Cloud. Scanning will facilitate the shift from a paper to digital trail, while consumable usage.
  7. Encourage recycling practices – Set recycling guidelines for paper, print and cartridges. Look for providers that implement schemes to reuse returned toner cartridges and switch to recycled paper to make substantial environmental savings. As an additional measure, integrate products which enable a change in behaviour. For example, Epson’s unique PaperLab technology which can recycle waste paper in the office using a dry process.
  8. Measure and manage – Integrate an MFP which can measure energy consumption, consumable usage, and device status. This facilitates proactive maintenance and visibility on energy and consumables usage as well as overall carbon footprint.

A strong business case has been set by SMEs that have already made the switch to sustainable printing measures, because they are already reaping tangible benefits. With a little investment in time, resourcing and strategy, SMEs could soon be snapping at the heels of large enterprises in the drive for more sustainable practices and overall business operations.