Green your office: Five tips for how to print less

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Green printing

You may think that printing is a simple business process and not one worth spending a huge amount of time and consideration on. But when you start to think about how much a printer is used within your business, and how reliant your employees are on printing you might reconsider.

Most people take the printer for granted – until it runs out of paper or toner, or stops working as a result of some obscure error. It’s at these times you realise how important the printer is and, of course, Murphy’s Law states that the likelihood of there being an issue increases with the urgency that you need to print. On top of these annoying issues that you as a business owner have to deal with, you also have the cost of what is being printed.

Paying a little closer attention to printing can pay-off.  Australia-wide, it’s estimated we use more than 3.5 million tonnes of paper each year. That’s a large amount of paper, and when you think about the volume you print each week, it also represents a significant cost to your business.

The challenge for many is knowing where to start. To get you started and to help you save money and time, here are some top tips…

1. Audit what you print  

Firstly, you need to think about what your printing needs are. Printing audits typically cover a span of time and will help you understand not only print volumes, but metrics like the optimal ratio of devices to users and current total cost of output (including service and consumables). An audit will also identify what types of documents you’re printing, how those documents flow through your business and whether there are any problems or inefficiencies in that process.

2. Understand your employee needs

Do some employees need to print more than others? Are there peaks and troughs in printer demand? Do employees need to print double sided or single? Understanding your employee needs is crucial if you are to understand where you can improve efficiencies.

3. Select the best devices for your business

Every year hundreds of new printer models flood the marketplace, with hugely varying price tags. While price is important, what is often overlooked is the more important consideration of ongoing running cost. The printing vendors make their money selling toner cartridges and the cost of these, and their life span, also varies enormously. On a cheap printer the cartridge costs over a year are likely to be so high that it would cost almost the same price or less to replace the entire machine. In most cases heading to your local stationer and buying a cheap printer is the more costly long term option. Make sure you ask yourself how many printers do you need and then question the ongoing costs for each printer?

4. Agree on some policies  

While most businesses strive to do their bit for the environment few take action on printing, which plays a part in contributing to carbon emissions. With that in mind, set some policies with employees on what’s acceptable and what’s not.  They don’t need to be over-complicated but could include basic guidelines such as ‘if you print something collect it from the printer within 30 minutes.’

5. Get employees on board.

While the vision of a ‘paperless office’ is likely to be some years off, taking the journey toward printing less isn’t a solo one. Although there’s a need for an individual or individuals within a business to lead the charge, if you don’t have the buy-in of the whole workforce then you’re likely to hit some stumbling blocks. To get everyone on board keep them informed