Office Document Strategies Blog

Environmental Impact of Office Document Strategies

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Sep 29, 2010 @ 14:09 PM

Environmental sustainability and the worldMost organizations have become much more "Green" in their thinking in the past few years.  Everyone is looking at ways to reduce their footprint and to build cost savings into their operations.

There are a number of ways which businesses can look at their office document strategies to assist in meeting their environmental sustainability goals.  Most of these strategies can help on the cost side as well.

  1. Consolidate your printing operations and consider using print management software to have users direct their printed output to the most efficient device for the type of job they are doing.  A stand alone printer can cost 2 or 3 cents minimum to run while a networked production printer will be 1.5 to 2 cents to run.  A networked multifunction printer (MFP) will run between 1 to 1.5 cents to run.  While the differences don't seem to be a lot, if a 50 page job is redirected from a 3 cent a page printer to a 1 cent a page mfp the savings are $1 for that job.  If 10 people do this once a day and there are 20 days in a month, the savings by right sizing the print output are $200 a week.  That's over $10,000 a year.  The tools to do this are not hard to come by and with some assistance most companies can set this up.  Using duplex capability on the output reduces the paper use by 50% as well.

  2. Don't print at all.  This sounds counter intuitive but there are ways in which companies can reduce the need to print.  This is especially true of transactional documents such as invoices, statements, and other repeated paperwork.  Find out if your clients can deal with an electronically submitted document?  There are tools available which can stream an output process to send e-mail to clients ready for e-mailed invoices, print to those who insist on paper, and fax to others.  If your transaction volumes are low you can do this manually and provide your clients with a better environmentally friendly service.

  3. Don't print file copies of documents.  Storing records electronically permits you to reduce duplicate prints.  Building a properly structured electronic file store is important however and you should consider using a document management system for this purpose.  When users need a file they look at an on screen copy and you can again save the extra print that is made when a copy is made when a document is removed from a paper file.  Multiple users can see the same file again saving copies.  
  4. Use environmentally sustainable toner and print systems.  If you use HP monochrome printers there is a new line of bio-resin toners available from bioprint which can reduce the use of petroleum based resins and this reduces the environmental footprint.  Kyocera offers their ecosys line of laser printers which use separate toner and drum printing systems and long life components.  This reduces the number of pieces in the toner cartridge and reduces the waste from used toner cartridges.  The toner hopper itself is recyclable as well.

  5. Scan and e-mail communications instead of faxing them.  While a fax sent from your office does not use paper in most instances it will use paper on the receiving end.  You can avoid paper when receiving as well.  There are fax enabled mfp printers which will receive faxes electronically and avoid the print out.  Ask your office equipment supplier about this capability the next time you have to replace a fax machine. In our practice in Burlington ON we find that at least 50% of our clients use the inbound fax routing capabilities when shown how....a great reduction in footprint and cost. Win for them and win for the environment.

The 5 suggestions above are a quick look at office document strategies which can help you in reducing your footprint.  They are all relatively easy to implement and each will make a contribution.  

What steps are you taking to reduce your environmental footprint?  Other ideas you can share so others can do so as well?

Lee K  Hosted Electronic File Storage

Topics: MFP, toner, document filing, office document strategy, BioPrint, Environment