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Sustainability in your workplace: how printing can help save the environment

It may seem counterintuitive to read about workplace sustainability on a website that talks a lot about document printing, but don’t be put off. PaperCut’s very existence was inspired by the desire to reduce paper wastage.

You might also scratch your head thinking, “How can printing help save the environment?”

Over the next few minutes we’ll explore this and more as we uncover why sustainability at work is important, and the various ways your workplace printing can be optimised to have a considerably lower impact on the environment.

But first, a quick look at why sustainability in the workplace is such an important topic.

Why sustainability in the workplace is important

Companies around the world are taking issues such as climate change into their own hands, developing programs to limit carbon emissions and giving back to the environment over-and-above what’s mandated by their government.

And as new generations reach working age, research indicates they want to work for organisations that give a damn about the future of the planet.

Many PaperCut customers like Giunti Psychometrics are drawn to print management software as a tool to promote sustainability. “[PaperCut Hive] allows us to be attentive to the environment and waste,” says Tommaso Salsetta, IT Manager at Giunti Psychometrics Italia. “Of particular interest to us are the forecast indicators on paper and toner consumption. The logs also allow us to retrieve all the details of the device activities.”

Your workplace may just be starting on a path towards a more sustainable way of working. Or perhaps you’re well on the journey, and have turned your sights towards existing business systems. Rest assured, your print environment is low hanging fruit, ripe for improvement through print management!

As for us? At PaperCut, we take a triple bottom line approach to business:

People: Social impact

Planet: Environmental impact

Profit: Economic impact

Without adopting sustainability across these three pillars, we cannot fully achieve our vision of becoming a 100-year company.

If we want to be a company with a century-long legacy, we have a duty to our planet. As a business, we can’t hope to continue supporting our community if there’s no community due to a failure of implementing environmental values.

How print management software helps the environment

There are a number of key features within print management software such as PaperCut MF and PaperCut Hive that assist you with your sustainability efforts.

First, a quick lesson on what print management software actually does (in case you need it - otherwise, jump ahead).

Print management software works with your existing printers and multifunction devices to improve the printing experience. It makes printing:

  • more secure and sustainable by stopping documents from automatically printing (you need to be at the printer to release documents)
  • more cost effective by encouraging double sided and black and white printing
  • provides solutions for cost recovery if required
  • reports on what’s been printed and by whom
  • and a long, long list of other clever features that you quite possibly never thought (or, let’s face it, cared) about before.

OK, back to the sustainability features…

Measure your printing

If you know how much paper you’re using and where it’s being used, you’re halfway towards doing something about it. PaperCut has dozens of reports that help you identify wastage (and wasters). You might find users print more responsibly when they know their printing’s being tracked!

Start by configuring double-sided as the default option in your printers. You can do that right now without PaperCut. Use PaperCut for the next steps: use a print script or a PaperCut Hive or PaperCut Pocket Add On to nudge users at the time of printing to print double-sided. Or just get PaperCut to convert all jobs to double-sided on some printers.

Color printing uses more expensive toners and inks, and more toner is needed overall to mix colors. With PaperCut you can use a print script or Pocket Add On to help guide users to print black and white. Or you can use active policies to restrict color printing to those who have a business need.

Use Find-Me printing and Secure Print Release

Find-Me printing is the ability to release a printout at any printer on the network. Super convenient as it doesn’t matter where you are in the workplace - so long as there’s a printer nearby, you can access your document.

Secure Print Release disables automatic printing. Documents can only be released from the printer after the user has identified themselves at the device (with an ID card, a PIN, Google credentials or whichever method the sysadmin has chosen).

This is one of those rare win-win-wins. It’s a great experience for users, wastage is dramatically cut as unwanted print-outs are never produced, and you save big on consumable costs, too.

The concept is simple: a user presses print at their computer; the print job goes to a virtual print queue and waits until the user identifies themselves at a printer; the print job then leaves the virtual queue and prints out.

Implement quotas or charging

In some industries, such as education, you can charge printing back to each user to empower them to think before they print. This helps them to make an informed decision on how much to print — you educate your users and save paper at the same time.

Forest Positive printing with PaperCut Grows

Reducing waste is just one part of the sustainable printing equation. For organisations who want to have a positive impact on the environment, our tree planting program PaperCut Grows empowers businesses to plant more trees than used by their printing.

Cutting out waste with our print management software and joining PaperCut Grows makes your printing Forest Positive. Every time you press print, it means you’re actively investing in the trees and forests of the world.

A bit about B Corp

Imagine a world where the entire business community is wholly aligned on actively reducing the impact we all have on the environment. It’s already begun with the nonprofit B Lab organisation and its B Corporation initiative.

To become B Corp certified, a workplace must go through a thorough assessment.

B Lab’s standards include:

  • B Impact Assessment: A comprehensive tool to measure, manage, and improve a company’s positive impact performance for workers, communities, customers, suppliers, and the environment. A required verified score of 80 on the B Impact Assessment also serves as a certification requirement for B Corp Certification.
  • Risk Standards: An assessment of eligibility for B Corp Certification based on a review of potentially negative impacts associated with a company’s industry and other practices.

Over 5,500 businesses worldwide are B Corp certified and the movement shows no signs of slowing down. If your workplace wants to explore its options, certification is a terrific pathway towards a sustainable future.

The future of sustainable printing

In terms of print management, PaperCut focuses on three areas of sustainability:

  • Ease
  • Security
  • Eliminating waste

Our waste eliminating practices are amalgamated with our other business values. By blending them, we’re ticking all boxes at once. Security officers and compliance personnel might be mainly motivated by security and privacy. But in implementing secure print management they’re also minimising waste, so it’s a double win.

It’s the same the other way round. If your priority is sustainability, a print management solution also improves security. For sustainability to become tantamount in print management, its value needs to be mixed in with other resonating benefits.

We’re already seeing that with the automobile industry. Electric cars are becoming more convenient and require less maintenance. Combine this with the other benefits of owning an electric car, and it’s not just about sustainability or reducing pollution. People are motivated by performance, ease of use, and reduction of services.

Print needs to do the same. Mix in value with your waste reduction. Think of it as a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, or beating people with carrots.