How to Implement Sustainable Printing Practices

Sustainable printing practices are far more than just a trendy buzzword. Emphasis on waste and carbon footprint reduction is becoming the status quo for offices all around the world. 

Despite hurtling towards a digital future, most, if not every office still prints. The United States alone consumes over 30 percent of the world’s paper. The vast majority of that goes to offices, but that’s something which is still rarely recognized. 

Sustainable printing practices are wildly popular because of their ability to dramatically reduce an office’s environmental impact without necessarily disrupting critical operations. Read on for a closer look at how environmentally friendly printing practices are now the new norm for office printing. 

Printing Is Going Green

Over the course of the past two decades, office and commercial printing have been reconsidering the impact which their processes make on the environment. Printing is going green for several reasons, but there are three key points that are worth exploring in detail. 

1. Paper is the largest source of waste by volume in the United States

It’s hard to put into perspective how much paper is used every year. In 2015, it was estimated that Americans created 68.1 million tons of paper and paperboard waste. In contrast, the EPA estimates that Americans generated only 34.5 million tons of plastic waste in that same year. Plastic consumption has long been recognized as a problem, yet paper usage occurs at twice the rate and its waste has gone almost completely unnoticed. 

2. Cartridges are resource and pollution intense.

Ink and toner cartridges are composed of durable plastic and metal components which are designed to withstand the extreme environment which is the inside of a commercial printer. As a result, they’re made through resource-intense processes which put about 10.6 pounds of CO2 into the air per cartridge. 

Likewise, manufacturers are producing 375 million of these every year, to the tune of 3.9 billion pounds of CO2 annually. For the record, those 375 million toner cartridges will take up the space of about 46 Olympic-sized swimming pools for the next one thousand years.  

3. Green is cost-effective.

Several years ago, the realization that toner cartridges sometimes contained only minuscule amounts of ink, despite the fact that their prices continued to rise, sparked outrage. The result was an industry disruption as third-party resellers scrambled to develop remanufactured cartridges. Today, it’s possible to find not just recycled and refilled cartridges, but others which have been re-engineered to produce extended yields. The best part? All of these options are cheaper than the OEM alternatives.

Tips to Practice Green Printing

Practicing sustainable printing is one of the easiest strategies an office can implement to mitigate their contribution to the staggering statistics mentioned earlier. Numerous strategies exist, but the most effective focus on reducing the overall print volume of a company. To foster sustainable printing: 

  • Use remanufactured ink and toner cartridges to help offset pollution and keep cartridges out of the landfills.
  • Commit to tree-free paper to reduce deforestation.
  • Participate in larger environmental initiatives such as tree-planting or volunteering. 
  • Use paper efficiently by adjusting margins and printing double-sided.
  • Print in monochrome unless it’s absolutely necessary to use color.
  • Purchase EnergyStar-certified devices which reduce resource use such as electricity.
  • Choose a multifunction printer to consolidate printing, scanning, copying, and faxing.
  • Use printer-friendly formats for PowerPoints, webpages, and emails.
  • Implement strict print policies to reduce unnecessary or unauthorized printing.
  • Encourage alternatives to printing to avoid it completely.

It’s not necessary to disrupt an entire office workflow in order to implement sustainable practices on a whole. However, when green printing practices are contextualized by company culture, it’s easier to start them and keep them in place. Therefore, foster sustainable business practices on a whole by making it a part of the company’s organizational culture.  

Get Started with Sustainable Printing Practices

Sustainable printing practices make an impact. With millions of tons of waste being produced by office printing alone, any effort to reduce printing or implement renewable alternatives will go a long way. Office Technologies has committed to sustainable practices in its printing environment and has experienced many positive results. As such, we are pleased to recreate this experience for companies looking for sustainable printing through our managed print services

Are you interested in printing less or helping your organization print more effectively? Start a conversation with a print environment expert today.