Print Can Be Wasteful

How to reduce, reuse, recycle, and manage your purchasing decisions

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06/08/2022

Rachel Dean

 

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We have all heard that offices would be going paperless at some point. It was even mentioned in a Business Week article in 1975! While digital processes increase and print volumes have continued to decline (at a faster rate during the COVID-19 pandemic than before), print certainly hasn’t completely gone away.

 

Printing is inherently wasteful with paper, toner, and power usage being the largest components with continued use. Material use for the device and its packaging also contributes…but is it all that bad? As customers, we are becoming more environmentally aware, and vendors are forced to respond to this shift as well as follow suit with increasing regulations. With vendors’ sustainability goals including carbon neutral targets, product recycling rates, use of recycled materials in products and packaging, remanufactured offering, as well as print management software offerings, there are many ways to make sure that waste is kept to a minimum as well as offset.

 

Photo by Francois Dvorak

 

How to Reduce

Pay attention to the longevity of devices, consumables, and parts (such as drums in laser devices). Consider high yield consumable devices or devices that offer simple ink or toner consumables with fewer material types to enable easier reuse and recycling. Use of paper management software with features such as job quotas, charging, and load balancing help to reduce printing and share the load for reduced wear and tear to a device fleet. Also, don’t forget good old draft mode if it’s for your use only. Packaging materials should also be simple and ideally as close to 100% recycled and recyclable cardboard as possible.

 

How to Reuse

Remanufactured devices are built with reused materials, put through the same stringent quality testing as all other devices, and deemed “as new” with full product warranties and lifetimes—often at reduced cost and with less carbon emissions from reduced logistics. If there is a remanufactured device that’s comparable to a new one in terms of speed and functionality, it might be worth considering buying used instead of new.

 

How to Recycle

The levels of post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in consumables and hardware are rising steadily and are becoming more readily published in corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies so that the best choices can be made. Many vendors offer return programs to enable reuse of device parts and recycling of cartridges, but not all programs are equal. Look out for programs that are the most accessible, simple to participate in, and ideally at no additional cost. Devices should also be compatible with most brands of recycled paper.

 

Managing Power Usage

Many products offer automatic on/off sleep schedules in-line with business hours, as well as instant-on so that there is little to no wait for the first print once the device is switched on. Features like these discourage the temptation to leave devices constantly running to avoid waiting, all the while maxing out energy usage.

 

Compliance and Carbon Neutral Targets

Eco-label compliance is a key requirement in purchase decisions. New compliance labels are being released and vendors need to keep up with the pace of change. Carbon neutral targets have also been set for 2050, but some vendors are looking to exceed this and become carbon neutral by 2025.

 

Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

Consumers are better informed than ever before, and the pressure for vendors to publish sustainability targets and achievements is growing as they become increasingly important in informing purchasing decisions. Many vendors are doing well with reducing waste for their offerings, ticking many boxes for longevity, PCR content, recycling programs, carbon offset programs, remanufactured offerings, and using less material types. Transparency and clarity are key. Any inconsistency between message and action will be seen—and “greenwashing” will not be tolerated.

 

Subscribers to our Office CompleteView Advisory Service can log in to the InfoCenter to view research and analysis on events, products, and Market Insights concerned with sustainability. If you’re not a subscriber, send us an email at sales@keypointintelligence.com for more info. Also, watch out for our Pacesetter Award on Remanufactured Hardware, which will be announced publicly on June 29!