Many companies are increasingly focusing on sustainability in all parts of the business—from broad operational changes to aspects as seemingly small as sustainable printing practices.
While sustainable printing may appear like a minor step, it makes a big difference in ensuring critical paper-based business processes are executed effectively, without any additional cost to the business or the environment. It’s time to rethink the entire device lifecycle, from printer procurement and print management to deciding what to do with old printers and used cartridges.
How can your business ensure its paper-based processes are as efficient and sustainable as possible? Here are a few pointers to get you started.
1. Start at procurement
Whether you’re looking to replace an existing printer or refresh your entire fleet, you can start the journey toward more sustainable printing practices before you’ve even written a purchase order.
When you’re shortlisting the vendors you want to deal with, look at what they are doing to ensure their supply chains operate in ethically and environmentally sound ways. Selecting companies that pay attention to their water usage, carbon footprints, and sustainable sourcing will ensure the simple act of purchasing a printer doesn’t damage the environment.
You should also keep in mind that most advanced printers are made from fewer components, which simplifies the manufacturing process and, in turn, reduces the environmental impact of production.
2. Rethink recycling and energy use
You may think printers consume a lot of energy and large quantities of toner and ink, but over the years, printer technology has evolved considerably. The amount of energy used by a modern printer is now significantly lower than it was in the past.
Regarding toner and ink, many of today’s major printer companies have changed their manufacturing processes so cartridges can be recycled easily—and at no cost to you. They also often have return programs, like HP Planet Partners, that make cartridge recycling effortless. This is a great way to make sure the chemicals in toner don’t end up in a landfill and leach into the environment.
Finally, try to source ethically and sustainably manufactured paper whenever possible. In addition to purchasing recycled paper, look into paper produced from sustainable sources. After paper is used, you’ll of course want to recycle as much of it as possible, too.
3. Streamline print management
You can improve print sustainability with smarter print management practices. For example, a practice like pull printing, which only releases a print job when the person authenticates at the printer using something like a card reader or a personal identification code, is an efficient way to reduce paper waste. As a bonus, this prevents confidential documents from being left in the tray where they can be seen by unauthorised individuals.
Managed print services (MPS) can also assist in managing your print environment. A good MPS partner can pick up on any anomalous operations impacting print performance and ensure your fleet is operating as efficiently as possible. Among other things, MPS providers help make sure your printers aren’t wasting energy, toner, or paper, and they can take care of reordering and recycling your supplies for you.
4. Refine business processes
Sustainable printing practices require an end-to-end look at business processes. For example, can you reduce the number of times a document needs to be printed? Perhaps you could implement innovative processes, like creating electronic copies for document reviews or using tablets to mark up documents. Print will always remain an integral part of document workflows, but you need to make sure print is used judiciously.
Modern multifunction devices can integrate paper documents into digital business processes. You can easily store and share digital copies from them, streamlining the transition from print to digital and back again while decreasing paper waste.
5. Decide what to do with old printers
When implementing sustainable printing practices, you should also consider what to do with old printers. Eventually, your new printer will reach the end of its life, and you’ll need to dispose of it. But if you want to be sustainable, think about what will happen next.
Industry leaders are now designing products so the precious raw materials needed to make them can be recovered and reused. Not only does this reduce the amount of waste winding up in landfills, but it also makes the supply chain more sustainable. When selecting your new printer, make sure you choose a vendor that will take care of end-of-life recycling for you.
Printer sustainability may seem like a small step, but when you consider all the supplies and energy that go into making your printers run, it can make a big difference. By introducing sustainable printing practices to your organisation, you can make a lasting impact on your sustainability efforts.