The practice of green printing is one that companies of all sizes are embracing, partly as a way of being eco-conscious, but mostly to cut costs through the reduction of interoffice paper waste. The concept isn’t new, and has been around about as long as printers have. The good news is that big strides are being made through the availability of built-in printer technologies that help offices enforce the responsible use of paper.
Paper’s Here to Stay
A recent report from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) tells us that regardless of our desire to go fully paperless, such aims may not be in alignment with current business practices: 60% of people rely on printers to bring documentation into meetings, and 52% like to review physical documents when making changes to them. Paper is here to stay (for now) but there are practices you can employ to shore up waste.
The Paper Tray Cop
According to data from the University of Regina in Canada, 15 percent of print jobs sent to printers are never picked up and invariably end up in the shred bin. This points to an enormous opportunity for businesses to eliminate paper waste – but short of policing the free-and-easy use of the control-P function, what’s the solution?
Modern business printers have built-in hard drives that enable users to store print jobs, both before and after the printing’s been completed. Adjusting a printer’s settings to require users to physically enter a PIN on a printer’s keypad or swipe a badge before a drop of ink is committed to paper can eliminate nearly one-fifth of the potential waste. This method can also go a long way toward drastically cutting back on the security risks inherent in leaving unattended documents with sensitive information sitting in printer trays for hours before they’re retrieved. It also brings the added benefit of improving employee productivity—instead of consuming valuable time hunting down print jobs that were sent to the printer hours earlier, employees can forward documents in advance and then print them out in a single batch later on.
Such “print release” features also enable the printer police to set time limits on how long a document is stored on internal memory awaiting liberation. Documents that aren’t printed within a specified timeframe will be removed from the internal printer queue, freeing up memory storage.
Fonts, Margins, and Duplexing
Although we bet you never thought you could lessen your carbon footprint and save money on paper by tweaking your computer font settings, it’s a fact. One of the most frequently used methods of reducing the use of office paper is to use smaller fonts when printing documents. This may not make an enormous difference in paper usage for one- or two-page printouts, but can be hugely impactful with larger documents and can make a sizable dent over the long term.
Other methods involve widening margins and printing to both sides of a sheet of paper, a process called duplexing. Not all printers have duplexing capabilities, and those that do have varying levels of effectiveness. Printers that require users to be present to flip printed pages over and feed them back into the tray can add an extra unwanted step. Those that employ dual cartridges to print on both sides of a sheet simultaneously, or that automatically re-feed pages to print on their reverse side, are a lot more efficient.
Outsourcing the Job
Green printing companies exist to make it easier for businesses to achieve the aim of lowering expenditures. Green printers process high-quantity print jobs and deliver them directly to companies, solving a number of problems. For one, there’s never the risk of accidental duplicate (or triplicate) printing. Green printing companies also utilize recycled paper, energy-efficient machinery, and repurposed ink cartridges to lessen that nagging, ever-present guilt factor that comes with the territory of producing mass print jobs. Additionally, outsourcing bulk printing saves on the considerably high cost of replacing printer supplies and performing frequent maintenance.
Beyond Saving Trees
Reducing paper waste is a key component of green printing, but it’s not the only one. Newer printers are manufactured with energy saving efficiencies that automatically shut down printers or put them into sleep mode after sitting dormant for a period of time. Multifunction printers that bundle printers, copiers, scanners and fax machines into a single unit also save energy. When deciding on a printer, look for official certifications from Energy Star, Blue Angel, or Environmental Choice.