Four steps to sustainable printing for businesses
Reducing paper waste in the office
A new annual report is published and you want to take a closer look, so you print the document and stack it on your desk. It takes its place atop the important supplier email you printed earlier. Is this behaviour you recognise in yourself and your colleagues?
We all intuitively recognise that we absorb and retain information better when reading printed documents, rather than screens, particularly when trawling through complex texts. We’ve all done it. It’s only a couple of items, so does it really matter?
The unsatisfactory answer is ‘perhaps it does’. It really depends on how sustainable your company print policies are.
Globally it’s estimated that around four billion trees are cut down to make paper each year. All of us have a responsibility to the environment to minimise the impact of this scale of enterprise, whether manufacturers or consumers.
Furthermore, businesses have a financial incentive to reduce paper waste. It was found in the UK for example, that unnecessary office waste (not limited to printing) is potentially costing industry as much as £15 billion annually. While this is less so for business in Germany, for example, as they follow the thorough Green Dot recycling programme – anything that reduces waste for organisations will help reduce the cost burden of handling that waste.
Introducing rigorous sustainable print policies can dramatically reduce the financial and environmental costs of printing. Here are four key areas to look at, for any business wishing to develop a more sustainable print policy.
1. Paper procurement
At Epson, we have a sustainable procurement policy which sets out our standards, and those we ask our suppliers to follow. First, we advocate an effective use of paper and other recycled pulp. Thanks to modern recycling methods, recycled paper offers a high-quality alternative, equal to paper produced from virgin pulp.
If virgin pulp is used to manufacture the paper you use, be sure that it is obtained legally, sustainably, in a safe manner and with sensible environmental management policies in place.
Paper recycling schemes are also very important. Recycling one tonne of paper saves 7,000 tonnes of water, 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil and 4,000 KW of energy. The EU is making great strides in this. According to the European Recovered Paper Council, 71.7% of paper in the EU is recycled, that’s two tonnes every second.
2. Manage print behaviours
It might seem obvious, but only printing when necessary is one of the most impactful elements of a sustainable print policy. There are some easy steps you can implement to monitor and reduce that print volumes. These include:
- Use software to track employee print volumes and encourage moderation
- Large companied can consider centralised printing enabling closer monitoring of print quality and quantity as-well-as streamlining printer maintenance.
- Review your print distribution lists frequently to ensure they’re up to date and relevant.
- Print double sided where possible. One study showed an estimated US$98,000 saving in just five weeks resulted from a business implementing this policy.
3. Where possible use digital alternatives to print
Despite long-standing expectations of the ‘paperless office’, we consume 400 million tonnes of paper globally each year, over a quarter of that right here in Europe. Alongside the environmental and financial cost of each wasted print comes the incremental cost of ink and energy. Technology now offers solutions that can help us reduce unnecessary printing and improve sustainable practice. For example:
- Document management systems allow us to scan and save hardcopies of documents, even digitally augmenting and improving paper copies.
- Cloud based solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive mean we can easily backup documents in the cloud, reducing the need to keep a hardcopy on file.
- Tablet devices and projectors mean we can present detailed information in an easily consumable digital format.
- Innovative platforms like Google Chat or Skype offer communication with collaborative document sharing features.
However, it is also important to recognise that despite the advent of the computer, projector, smart phone and tablet, printed materials continue to be valued and justifiably used by many employees.
Ensure that your office hardware is sustainable
Epson’s Make the Switch campaign showcases the WorkForce Pro Business inkjet printer range as a solution that improves the sustainability of printing. Our WorkForce Pro printers use up to 96% less energy and produce 94% less waste than comparable laser printers. And unlike laser alternatives, they produce no toner dust. If every business in the EU5 were to switch to the WorkForce Pro today, each year we would save:
- Energy equivalent to powering over 400,000 homes
- Over 22 million tonnes of CO2
- 156,000 tonnes of waste
Likewise, the EcoTank series provides all the sustainable features of Epson technology, but at an ultra-low cost per-page. With ink for up to two years or 11,000 pages of printing in its high-volume ink tanks, the EcoTank printer range generates far less waste than competing printers, while reducing business printing costs by up to 70%. This offers another flexible solution for businesses while maintaining Epson’s leading sustainability standards.
In support of even greater levels of office recycling, Epson has created PaperLab, a compact in-office paper recycler that creates new value for business and society whilst using virtually no water. PaperLab will enable shorter paper recycling process by allowing organisations to recycle waste paper in the office, without hiring a contractor to handle the disposal. By reducing the paper purchases and the supply chain logistics of recycling and redistributing new paper, PaperLab will boost business sustainability.
The right sustainable printing solution won’t be the same for every business. That’s why Epson offers alternatives to fit any business model. Our Print365 packages offer a managed print service solutions perfectly designed for small to medium sized businesses that want high-quality, efficient printing. With a range of fixed price bundles, smaller enterprises can access the benefits of sustainable printing equipment at a fixed cost that suits them.
Sustainable practice means a more competitive organisation.
Sustainable print policies don’t just help our environment, they help your business too. In a survey of nearly 3,000 global executives as far back as 2011, 67% of respondents saw sustainability as a necessary element of being competitive in the modern market place. Given the current climate of legislation, coupled with a desire among businesses to enhance their green reputation, this figure is likely to have only significantly increased today. What are you doing about your sustainability credentials?
These easy steps provide a template. Ultimately smart oversight and innovative solutions could provide business benefits beyond the simple changes highlighted here.