Energy consumption is a hidden cost of printing that many small businesses over look. Running multiple, high-cost copiers or desktop printers can be inefficient and expensive and can result in high energy usage and a bigger carbon footprint. It can also generate a significant amount of waste in the form of paper, toner and ink cartridges each year. If you’re a business owner or office manager it is worthwhile assessing your current printing usage and learning how small changes can make a big difference to your carbon footprint and costs. Here are a few things to consider:

Switch to energy saving printers
It sounds obvious, yet most small businesses don’t consider environmentally friendly features when purchasing a printer.

Ensure energy saving features are used
Look for energy saving features that put machines to ‘sleep’ in idle periods. This can save hundreds of dollars each year on energy consumption and reduce a business’ carbon footprint. Ask staff to turn off their computer screens – a simple monitoring and reward program may encourage people to get into the habit.

Implement a consumables management program
With multiple devices, an office is likely to buy many different types of consumables such as toner, often on an ‘as needed’ basis. This is an expensive way of doing business and can generate a lot of waste.

  • Provide training to staff – teaching your employees how to use the office printer may not be a top priority, but it could save your business a lot of money.
  • A common print-cost black hole is the lack of controls or limits set on high-speed, colour printing devices. The cost of toner will add up if employees are regularly printing in colour unnecessarily.
  • Create a policy that will restrict who has access to colour. Some printers provide customisable access controls to limit the use of colour by user, department or print function.
  • Choose a printer with a toner saving feature.
  • Set the default settings to print in black and white.

Stop wasting paper
Encourage staff to use the print preview function before they print and only print the pages they need. Where possible, printing should be double sided (duplex) to reduce the number of pages used. Use paper trays to collect single-sided printed scrap paper which can be used for notes or re-printed on, or consider switching to recycled paper. New generations of printers use less energy, print faster and have less expensive consumables so if you have printers, scanners or copiers that are more than three years old, it might be time to review.

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This content is an excerpt from the article published 28 April 2015 via