Tips to Improve Sustainable Printing in Your Office

By: Marco
May 5, 2022

Businesses today are being encouraged to adopt environmentally-friendly policies that help reduce carbon output and mitigate the impact we have on the planet. When it comes to green initiatives, the best place your company can start is in the print and copy room. Printers and copiers are some of the largest consumers of energy in an office environment. These machines also use up toner cartridges and paper, creating a significant amount of garbage and waste.

Saving the environment isn’t the only benefit of sustainable printing. With sustainable printing, copying, and scanning practices, your company can save money on utility bills, supplies, and waste disposal.

Sustainable printing for small business

Average Printing Costs

There are a variety of costs associated with your company’s printing and copying operations. There are supply costs, such as paper and toner. The average employee can create up to $725 per year in printing costs.

For a small business with 10 employees, this equates to annual printer costs in excess of $7,250. Businesses with 150 employees or more face printer costs alone that exceed $108,750. The costs for a national company with offices across the country can easily exceed $1 million annually.

Of course, there are additional costs such as machine repair, maintenance, and energy consumption. The figures I quoted earlier only represent the hard costs of printer use, and hard costs only represent about 10% of the total cost of operating printers and copiers each year. If you’re curious about your printing costs, we’ve created a free print cost calculator to help you find out your true cost-per-print.  

How to Control Printing Cost

There are multiple ways for your business to rein in these printer costs. But here are a few simple tips to start with so your office can begin reducing printer costs:

Think Before You Print

Too many documents are printed and thrown in file folders, never to see the light of day again. Before printing, think about the necessity of a hard copy of any document.

Encourage Eco-Friendly Approaches

Include email signatures that ask recipients not to print the message or documents contained within, unless necessary.

Alter Printer & Document Defaults

Few companies think to change printer defaults to decrease costs. You could expand the margins on print documents and enable double-sided printing, for starters. Simply printing on both sides is probably the easiest way to reduce paper consumption by 50%.

Go Black & White

Whenever possible, print in black and white rather than color. Even better, update default settings to black and white printing. The average black-and-white page costs ¼ the price of the same in color.

Use Slimmer Fonts

Calibri and Cambria require a smaller amount of ink or toner to print. Ink and toner are expensive, and over time, wasteful fonts can run up quite the bill. Believe it or not, choosing a slimmer font could save you 77% on your printing costs. 

Sustainable Printing Tips

Sustainable printing cannot be achieved through cost control alone. You’ll still need to produce full-color documents and hard copies for filing or distribution, which means cost-cutting techniques alone won’t improve sustainability. The following tips can help your company follow sustainable techniques that save money and the environment at the same time.

Use an Efficient Printer

If your printer is over seven years old, it’s time to put it out to pasture. Even if it’s still producing documents, it won’t be equipped with the necessary cybersecurity tools to keep your data and infrastructure safe. Find a printer with an Energy Star label that also has a low cost per page, so it won’t use unnecessary amounts of ink or toner.

Additionally, you should search for a printer that’s more compatible with the type of documents your organization prints regularly. For example, if your organization mostly churns out black and white documents at a high volume, it’s probably best not to buy a machine that generates beautiful color images, but requires a lot of ink, time, and energy to do so. When in doubt, refer to this questionnaire to find the right printer for your organization.

Take Advantage of Multifunction Devices

Using a single multifunction device can make your printing more sustainable for a few reasons. As it will be used more frequently, cartridges won’t dry out as often. Furthermore, getting rid of personal printers and requiring staff to have to retrieve their documents from another location discourages unnecessary printing.

Recycle & Reuse

Paper accounts for 26% of the waste found in landfills. Your employees will always need to print documents for meetings or presentations to clients. But when those papers have served their purpose, make sure they end up in recycling bins and not in the garbage can.

Whenever possible, your employees should reuse scrap paper around the office. If they want to print a document that is not particularly vital, encourage them to use paper from your recycling bin that has printing on just one side. Another great way to reuse paper is for taking notes.

You can also easily recycle your toner cartridges. This guide includes links to each manufacturer’s recycling program.  

Use Alternative Supplies

Perhaps the best sustainable printing tip you can follow is this: ask your providers about recycled supplies. Supply costs represent a significant portion of annual printer costs and account for the majority of the waste from printing activities. If you want to improve the sustainability of your printing operations, ask your suppliers about refurbished toner cartridges, recycled paper, or tree-free paper. 

Consider a Managed Print Services Provider

Managed Print Services (MPS) providers can save their clients up to 30% on their printing, and take on regular tasks, like monitoring and ordering supplies, maintenance, and troubleshooting. After conducting an initial printing assessment, an MPS will also recommend easy ways to reduce energy consumption, as well as solutions to boost printing security and sustainability. 

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Topics: Copiers & Printers