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5 ways to prevent waste with sustainable printing

So you want your workplace to be a paperless office… I have some unfortunate news for you. The paperless office, as we know it, is a pipedream. Sorry to be a party pooper. But the working world has been talking about the paperless office for 45 years and counting. We’re still not there. Even in the world of laptops, tablets, and smartphones. We simply won’t stop printing.

However, the fantasy of the paperless office doesn’t mean our current reality of printing is entirely hopeless. The intention of going “paperless” is still warranted. And it has delivered results. Print volumes declined during the COVID-19 pandemic. Office workers learned how not to print when working from home, and it stuck when they returned to the office, whether hybrid or full-time. It doesn’t appear that printed output will return to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon. So we’ve gotten close to going paperless. The keyword there is close; we are still printing. 

But while we’re not 100% paperless, every sheet of paper that is printed can be thoughtful and not wasteful. Here are 5 simple ways your printing can be sustainable and have a Forest Positive impact on our planet, businesses, and communities.

Why sustainable printing is important

Modern businesses are sustainability-minded. Today’s market is increasingly driven by consumer behaviors motivated by environmentally conscious business practices. Printing is an obvious creativity and communication outlet that can become more sustainable and environmentally friendly in the workplace. Printing consumes many resources: paper, ink, toner chemicals, and electrical power. Less printing means less consumption of these materials and a reduced environmental footprint. 

One natural resource that printing impacts greatly is the forests of the world. That doesn’t mean you should feel guilty when pressing print… but only if you’re pressing print thoughtfully. When you do press print, that piece of paper should be an essential document and not a wasteful print job i.e. documents that don’t need to be printed, easily forgotten documents, documents that have already been printed or documents that don’t need to be printed in full .

Wasteful printing directly damages the planet. 30% of logged trees become paper products and 20% of current greenhouse gases are due to tropical forest destruction. Trees are worth protecting because one mature tree absorbs more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. That’s a key contributor to combatting climate change. It’s therefore critical that we don’t waste trees. And printing is a big part of that equation. By transforming your workplace into a thoughtful printing environment, your workplace directly gives back to the environment.

Five steps to your lesspaper office

PaperCut Software was founded on the drive for sustainability . One overflowing recycling bin inspired our founder and CEO to write a bit of code to stop print waste. We’ve been doing so for 20+ years with smart printing tools like user behavior nudges and print policies. We offer a range of print management solutions for all types of industries and print infrastructures to make printing smarter and more ecologically efficient. 

For businesses that want to get as close to the paperless office as possible and extend their sustainable printing practices into direct ecological investment, for PaperCut MF and PaperCut Hive customers we also offer our tree planting program PaperCut Grows to ensure printing is Forest Positive . While “paperless” is a fantasy, you can be a “lesspaper” office by implementing PaperCut as your  print management solution, then following these 5 steps.

1. Measure your printing

The first thing print management software provides is visibility. No longer is your business wrapped up in mystery. You have access to data and insights so that you can control your print environment, rather than react whenever you see your consumables bill. 

Once you have print management software installed, take the time to study and measure your printing output. Knowing the amount and location of paper usage is a significant step towards taking action to reduce it. Then, as an added bonus, when you start tracking printing, your users tend to print more conscientiously because wasteful printing is front of mind.

2. Use Find-Me printing (or Secure Print Release)

Secure Print Release is the backbone of smarter printing. Instead of automatically printing, your print jobs enter a hold and release state until they are authenticated at a release station or printer. 

Find-me printing is an overlay of Secure Print Release which unlocks convenience as well as being a victory for security and waste reduction: users can approach any printer in your organization to release their print jobs. The Find-me printing solution is therefore a unique triple-win approach. Users benefit from a seamless printing experience. Wastage caused by unwanted print-outs is significantly reduced. At the same time, you can save a considerable amount on consumable costs. 

We’ve even called Find-me printing magic. And we stand by the bold claim that it makes your printing better… just like how a unicorn makes a rainbow better.

3. Slash paper usage with duplex printing

The easiest way to instantly literally cut your paper use (PaperCut, get it?) in half is by regimenting duplex aka double-sided printing. Print management software can make this automated and therefore second nature. Specifically, print scripts in PaperCut products empower you to nudge users at the time of printing. You can also configure it as a default setting on some printer brands.  

4. Print in color only when needed

There’s a reason your dad doesn’t let you print color at home. It’s super duper expensive. Color printing uses more expensive toners and inks. On top of that, more toner is required to mix the colors. Similar to the above with duplex printing, you can remind users to primarily print in black and white, or you can set a hard default. That way color ink and toner are reserved for official business-critical color print jobs.

5. Implement quotas or charging

Some sectors have the ability to allocate printing costs to individual users, which encourages them to be more mindful of their printing behavior. It’s often seen in education, from K-12 schools to higher education institutions like universities and even libraries. This approach empowers users to make informed decisions about how much they need to print, resulting in an educational experience that also conserves paper. 

Quotas and charging essentially places the cost of printing front and center for the user. Therefore they realize that there isn’t some magical money tree paying for the printing. Nor is there a magic paper tree supplying neverending sheets. Those pages are literal pieces of trees and therefore printing needs to be thoughtful and respectful and not a drain on your organization or the planet.

How to get sustainable printing started with PaperCut Software…

These five steps are easily achievable for any workplace. But users need to feel like they’re part of the solution, not the cause of the problem. We highly recommend print environment system administrators invite their users on the journey, so you’re all working together towards the same goal: sustainable printing.

To optimize printing efficiency, it’s essential to involve your users in the process. Therefore, we suggest a gradual approach to implementing the above five steps:

  • Start by activating your chosen PaperCut solution in passive mode. This will provide insight into your printing environment’s activities without disrupting your users’ experience.
  • Next, introduce Find-Me printing, a reliable method of preventing printer wastage and enhancing print security.
  • For double-sided and black-and-white printing policies, gentle prompts may be useful to guide your users initially.
  • Finally, after your users have gotten used to more sustainable printing practices, you can try implementing active print policies and set these behaviors as defaults. Just ensure that you can do so on your brand of printer.

Then if sustainability isn’t enough, and you want to do more, PaperCut MF and PaperCut Hive customers can enter the PaperCut Grows program, and plant trees as well as reduce paper waste to make printing Forest Positive.

Searching for sustainable print management software? Find out how PaperCut Software can transform your printing from an ecological impact to a Forest Positive force for environmental renewal.



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