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Sustainable Print Services: A Guide to Eco-Friendly Printing by Principal

19th June 2024

The Environmental Impact of Traditional Printing

Traditional printing has a considerable environmental footprint. Did you know that 35% of all harvested trees are used for paper production? Additionally, printing consumes a lot of energy, often derived from non-renewable sources. The waste generated is also substantial, with over 500 million ink cartridges discarded each year, along with outdated printers, toner cartridges, cables, and cords. Paper production itself is water-intensive, requiring between two and 13 litres to produce a single A4 page.

All these factors contribute to an inefficient and energy-intensive technology that businesses should aim to minimise. Our goal is to assist you in achieving this.

How Sustainable Print Services Reduce Your IT Footprint

Eco-friendly printing encompasses several practices and technologies, including the use of recycled paper, energy-efficient machines powered by renewables, and comprehensive print management services. Viewing environmentally friendly printing as a holistic practice is crucial because no single change makes a printing service sustainable.

Recycled Paper: Using recycled paper can save 17 trees, 1,440 litres of oil, and 4,000 kilowatts of energy per ton.

Eco-friendly Inks: Water-based inks reduce VOC emissions and avoid petroleum-based solvents.

Sustainable Print Services: By adopting these services and the right print management software, you can track and reduce your overall printing volume.

Renewable Energy: Printing with renewable power should be a fundamental part of every commercial ESG strategy.

Cost Benefits of Sustainable Printing

Print-related costs typically constitute about 3% of a company’s expenses. Printer issues also account for 40% to 60% of IT help desk time, affecting productivity. Additionally, 65% of printed documents are discarded or recycled the same day they are printed.

These factors make a strong case for sustainable print services, which can lead to significant cost savings. Many organisations have reduced their annual print budgets through eco-friendly printing practices.

The Latest Sustainable Printing Technologies

Here are some key environmentally friendly printing solutions to consider:

Eco-friendly Inks: Opt for soy-based, vegetable-based, water-based, or recycled ink cartridges to avoid VOCs and HAPs.

Recycled Paper: The average office uses roughly 50kg of paper annually. Switching to recycled paper is an easy win.

Sustainable Print Management: Implementing services like PaperCut allows you to set print quotas, choose black and white printing by default, and track your overall print volume.

Energy-efficient Printers: Look for multifunction devices with high energy efficiency ratings and integrated print management software.

Recycling Programmes: Place recycling bins next to printers and promote the use of environmentally friendly paper.

Replanting Schemes

Consider print management services with replanting or sustainability programmes. For example, PaperCut Grows converts documents printed into trees planted, helping reduce your overall footprint.

Implementing a Paperless Policy for Hybrid Work

Cloud printing facilitates hybrid work by allowing employees to print from anywhere. However, the ultimate goal should be minimal printing. Here are a few tips to promote a paperless approach:

Embrace the Cloud: Shift collaboration, document management, and editing tasks to the cloud.

Digital Sign-ins: Replace paper logbooks with electronic visitor management systems.

E-signature Software: Use e-signature tools like DocuSign for secure, efficient, and paperless signing.

Features to Look for in Sustainable Print Services

Eco-friendly printing involves more than just printers and paper. It's about changing your entire approach to printing. Here are essential features of sustainable print services:

Print Release: Secure print release at the MFD and document preview before printing can reduce unnecessary prints.

Print Preferences: Adjust print preferences and permissions, such as setting duplex and black-and-white printing as default.

Print Tracking: Understand who is printing what to improve and reduce print volume.

Quotas and Charging: Implement print quotas and charges to encourage mindful printing.

Carbon Reduction: Look for services with replanting or carbon offset schemes, like PaperCut Grows, to help reduce deforestation and balance your printing footprint.

In the modern office, a completely paperless environment might seem like a distant dream. While printing physical documents is still a significant part of business operations, we are seeing progress. For instance, in 2020, the total volume of printed pages decreased by 14%, dropping to 2.8 trillion pages. Although there was a slight increase in 2021 due to the pandemic, the numbers have been steadily declining since.

This shift highlights a significant opportunity for businesses to reduce office waste through sustainable print services. By printing less, adopting duplex printing, and moving hard-copy tasks to the cloud, companies can move closer to a paper-free workplace. This guide will help you transition to environmentally friendly printing practices.

The information for this blog was sourced from Papercut. You can read the full story here

By adopting these sustainable print practices, businesses can significantly reduce their environmental impact while also enjoying cost savings and improved efficiency. Embrace eco-friendly printing and contribute to a greener future.

Talk to our experts and optimise your print setup today

Principal can help you with all of your office print requirements, call us on 0333 240 8130

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