Expand your sustainability efforts to include office printers

October 8, 20195 minute read

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MIT Technology Review dubbed 2017 as “the year climate change began to spin out of control.” Rising emissions fueled a rise in temperatures, which led to an onslaught of extreme weather events. Frankly, it’s hard not to get apocalyptic about the future of the planet—and humanity. Faced with worst-case scenarios, every business and individual has a responsibility to consider how their office impacts the environment. Everyday workplace technology, like office printers, represent an opportunity to become more sustainable.

Printing remains an important part of most workplaces. According to Statistic Brain, the average office worker uses 10,000 paper sheets annually. Throughout the lifecycle of office printers, there are many ways you can promote green printing by reducing waste, improving efficiency, and recycling responsibly. In 2019, there’s no excuse for not embracing green printing practices.

Turn to newer printing technologies

Legacy print technology uses far more energy than today’s tech designed with sustainability in mind. Outdated printing infrastructure is more expensive on all fronts—from upkeep to carbon footprint. By turning to newer printing technologies that prioritize environmental impact, businesses can improve energy and cost efficiency.

For instance, HP PageWide Technology uses less energy than many other printers, because there is no fuser element the machine needs to heat in order to print. Fewer moving parts also contribute to lower energy use. Take the fixed printhead, for example, which results in fast printing in a single pass.

Office printers using HP PageWide Technology can reduce the carbon footprint of printing by up to 55 percent per printer1; use up to 73 percent less energy than laser printers2; and generate up to 90 percent less supplies and packaging waste than comparable laser printers.3 If you’re updating your printer fleet, look for certifications like ENERGY STAR, Blue Angel, and EPEAT as an easy way to ensure that your equipment supplier has made some basic efficiency and sustainability considerations, like optimized power consumption and duplex printing.

Get smart about recycling

When it comes to recycling the materials associated with office printers, paper is what you might think of first, but other disposable equipment, like ink and toner cartridges, need to be—and can be—sustainably replaced. While the old-school method was to simply throw them out, cartridges can be broken down and reformed into new ones, ensuring a fresh, high-quality product at a lower environmental cost.

In 2017, HP released the first Original HP ink cartridges made with plastic from bottles recycled in Haiti. The goal was to reinvent how products were designed, manufactured, used, and recovered to shift toward a circular, closed-loop, low-carbon economy. Through this initiative, HP purchases recycled plastic collected in Haiti, which creates economic opportunities for the recyclable collectors and transforms the plastic into recyclable ink cartridges. Check out the full story in this video:

Over the course of 2016, HP manufactured more than 3.4 billion HP ink and toner cartridges using more than 88,900 tons of recycled content material, including 3.7 billion post-consumer plastic bottles. In addition to leveraging recycled materials, this ongoing initiative also benefits the environment by preventing plastics from entering landfills and reaching the Caribbean Sea.

Cartridges are not the only equipment in need of recycling, however. Printers themselves are a significant contributor to global e-waste—but they don’t have to be. Hardware companies can further foster sustainable practices through partnerships with organizations like Homeboy Electronics Recycling, a Los Angeles-based company that employs disadvantaged workers to securely refurbish office equipment or disassemble it, reclaiming viable materials. Just as you are responsible for ensuring that no resource under your management is left untapped, refurbishers and recyclers ensure that every component that can be reused finds new life at a low environmental cost.

Streamline document workflows

Streamlining document workflows also benefits sustainability by cutting down on unnecessary printing. Every time an employee accidentally sends a document to the wrong printer or prints a document single-sided when they could have gone double-sided represents waste. Step one to improving efficiency is to gain insight into printer behaviors and decision making. How common are lost or forgotten print jobs? How many sheets of paper do most employees use a year? What is the printer-to-employee ratio?

By consolidating and standardizing on fewer office printing devices, organizations can save big when it comes to energy costs. Multifunction printers are helpful here, as they eliminate the need for standalone print, fax, and copy devices. Another way to streamline document workflows is through authentication protocols and pull-printing capabilities. If an employee can store a print job until they authenticate at the device, you can cut down on abandoned jobs—and enhance security, too.

Managed print services (MPS) can boost green printing by calling on experts to identify pain points and reduce print spending. By deploying multifunction printers and signing on with an MPS contract, the British Library reduced print expenditure by over 20 percent and increased staff productivity; cut paper usage by 125,000 sheets, saving 3,475Kg in CO2 emissions; and lowered power costs by over 72 percent through fleet optimization and power-down functionality.

In today’s rapidly overheating world, every decision matters. Office printers are just one of the many ways you and your IT team can make sustainable choices for your business while also doing what’s right for the planet.


  1. Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) savings of the average lifetime use of printing 100,000 pages using an HP OfficeJet Pro X576dn compared with the HP Color LaserJet Pro M476dn MFP. The HP OfficeJet Enterprise X585dn reduces the carbon footprint of printing by 36.5 percent compared with the HP LaserJet Enterprise Color M575dn, saving the carbon equivalent of 35 gallons of gas per printer per 100,000 pages, based on CO2e savings of the average lifetime use of printing 100,000 pages. Peer-reviewed life cycle assessment models commissioned by HP and conducted by PE International for inkjet (September 2013) and LaserJet (September 2014) printing. Greenhouse gas equivalencies based on the US EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. Specific results run by HP internal LCA experts.

  2. The weighted average for competing devices is 508 watts. Energy claim based on testing comparisons of major competitors in default modes by Buyers Lab Inc., May 2016. Internal testing reveals the HP PageWide Pro 556dw uses up to 73 percent less energy compared with the majority of color laser MFPs <$1000 USD and color laser printers <$800 USD as of September 2016.

  3. The HP OfficeJet Pro X576dn generates up to 94 percent less waste per 15,000 pages compared with major in-class competitors’ color laser MFPs < $1,000 USD and color laser printers < $800 USD as of July 2014. Tested by Buyers Lab Inc. The HP OfficeJet Enterprise X585dn generates up to 90 percent less waste compared with the majority of color laser MFPs ≤ $3,000 USD based on market share as reported by IDC as of Q3 2013.

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