Checklist: The way to environmental sustainability for your printer fleet

The call for “Think before you print“ has been manifested in numerous e-mail signatures. But not much further action has been taken. Thus companies have to shift gears and come up with a sustainable stragegy for their printer-infrastructure, aimed at preservation of resources and environmental friendliness.

Network-compatible and light-weight multifunctional devices increase environmental sustainabilitly

Environmental sustainability of a printer fleet starts with device-selection, way ahead of the actual purchase. Multifunctional devices are often the best choice, as these offer one device rather than three different models- printer, fax-machine and copier, thus not only saving manufacturing resources, but also reducing environmental liabilities in terms of disposal. The network-compatibilty of multifunctional devices turns out to preserve resources as well. Capable of servicing multiple users, these do no longer depend on personal desktop printers. Another factor to be considered is the weight of a device, as it is a guideline-value for the amount of resources used and disposal thereof.

Eco-seals are a sensible endorsement

Eco-seals of approval such as “Blue Angel“ and “Energy Star“ can be a guideline for aforementioned criteria being fulfilled. They confirm that the devices have been manufactured without the use of environmentally harmful elements such as lead or mercury. In addition eco-labels provide an evaluation of consumption data. Nevertheless, these should not be your only guideline, as the devices usually do not get tested and data are based on manufacturer’s specifications. Their actuality varies depending on where and how they are used.

Manufacturer’s specifications regarding usage and consumption are to be taken with caution

Aside from static device specifications, manufacturers also provide information regarding usage, such as printing volume and energy consumption. Both values need to be viewed with caution, as they may bear massive deviations from actual usage values. Nevertheless, they serve as guideline values, facilitating an initial comparison. Printing volumes should be high, to avoid frequent replacing and disposal of toner cartridges. On the other hand, energy consumption should be low, for stand-by as well as when in use.

Users are still facing challenges –if of a different nature

As the use of paper and manufacture thereof comprise the most resource- and energy-intensive part of the printing process, these hold the key for increased environmental sustainablity. Thus the use of recycled printing paper becomes essential. Duplex-print is another economizing factor in terms of paper consumption. Furthermore users should use recycled consumable materials rather than new cartridges, as well as make an effort to optimize electric energy consumption. The devices should be turned off completely on weekends and during holidays.

Purchasing environmentally sustainable devices does not suffice

To incorporate all of the above stipulations and create an environmentally sustainable printer-infrastructure at the same time, it is necessary to focus on both,structural and operative factors. For a sustainable printer-infrastructure is not given by merely purchasing devices with the lowest energy consumption and use of resources. It is the user, who guarantees environmental sustainability by effectively changing habits and routines.