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How to earn your school an environmental printing gold star

Our schools are where we nurture young minds… teaching them about important issues like environmentalism and sustainability. And these days, students and teachers are increasingly looking for schools that incorporate these values into their own practices.

Printing has always been an area which posed an eco-challenge. Can printing in schools actually be sustainable? We think so! We’ve got some tips to help you more towards more environmental printing by switching to sustainable printing practices that reduce waste, paper, toner, and energy.

Benefits of sustainable printing practices

Printing has a significant environmental impact… For a start, the production of paper involves cutting down trees and adds pollution to the atmosphere. (Unfortunately in schools, a lot of this paper goes to waste.) The chemicals in printer ink and toner can also be harmful to the environment if they end up in landfill, and cartridges are made with plastics that aren’t recyclable. Plus, the printer itself needs energy to run.

While the paperless school might still be a dream, reducing your printing – and with it, your paper, ink, and power usage – will have a direct impact on your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, by helping schools and organizations manage their printing, PaperCut has saved 3.2 billion pages from being printed and over 380,000 trees from being logged to date!

Not only is this better for the environment, but sustainable printing practices have added benefits for your school: lowering your printing costs, helping you run more efficiently AND improving your image in the education community.

Tips for more environmentally friendly printing

  • Measure your printing. A managed print service provider gives you real-time print data so you can find out how much paper you’re using and identify areas to cut down. 
  • Implement Find Me printing. Secure release printing places print jobs on hold until staff authorize the job, preventing unwanted printouts and reducing waste.
  • Change your default settings. Make black-and-white, double-sided printing with narrow margins the default option on all printers – and restrict colour printing to staff who have a specific need.
  • Turn your printers off. Set up school printers to switch to sleep mode when they’re not in use, and be sure to power down all devices overnight.
  • Use eco-friendly materials. Choose recycled or sustainably-sourced printing paper and vegetable-based inks, and recycle your printer and cartridges through e-waste collection centres.
  • Set up quotas and charging. Charge printing back to students to encourage them to think before they print, and set limits on how much staff are allowed to print.
  • Order supplies as needed. A managed print service provider can supply you with consumables like paper and toner as required, so you’re not ordering more than necessary.
  • Educate your staff. Create a culture of sustainability and encourage staff to join the school’s efforts in becoming more environmentally friendly.

What does more environmental printing in education look like?

Here’s an example of the difference sustainable printing practices can make in a school environment. The Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT) is a multi-site educational institution for kids and young people in Suffolk, England. DNEAT oversees 35 academies for over 10,000 students – so you can imagine the sheer volume of paper involved.

It was basically the Wild West of printing: overflowing paper waste baskets and massive overspending on print consumables. With jobs automatically released from the printer, staff would find themselves sifting through several hundred (or thousand!) sheets of paper to find their documents.

And if the incorrect number of pages or wrong paper size was sent to the printer, the job would still print – causing a huge amount of ink and paper waste. Not exactly environmentally (or budget) friendly, right?

By introducing PaperCut’s centralized print management solution, DNEAT immediately reduced paper waste. Staff and students can now delete any duplicate jobs or mistakes they’ve made pre-printing, and release jobs individually to ensure they’re getting the correct printouts.

And by keeping paper costs down, DNEAT has saved a significant amount of money that can be better spent elsewhere, such as staffing and resources for the students.

Wondering how PaperCut can solve some of your schools printing challenges? Check out or “Printing in Education” Ebook to learn more.



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