For businesses of all sizes printing is an essential part of everyday routine. However, as companies aim to become as environmentally responsible as possible, printing is often demonised and employees encouraged to print less even if this means they are working less efficiently.

I believe that the problem of negatively impactful printing needs to be tackled on multiple levels. It is quite often the inefficient systems that businesses have in place that create an unnecessary environmental impact and it is more a matter of education than costly reorganisation.

These top tips should help businesses to consider and adopt new ways of working as well as looking at the technology they use to both reduce the environmental impact of printing and reduce office costs.

Introduce a company-wide printing policy

This could be part of a company’s CSR programme so that all employees understand and feel part of the green initiatives applied within the organisation. The policy should act as a guideline for employees to follow in order to apply the most sustainable printing practices at the office and could include:

  • Restricting the use of colour except for official documents (black and white as the default setting)
  • Ensuring that double-sided printing is used whenever possible (e.g. as the default setting or printing more than one PowerPoint slide on each page)
  • Encouraging employees to proofread before printing to avoid wasteful re-printing. Getting a second pair of eyes to look over documents can also be an effective safeguard
  • Ensuring that only the information that is needed is being printed. If it is only a few paragraphs from a large document that is needed, make sure the print range is set before printing
  • Recycle any unwanted paper and reuse single-sided sheets as note paper

Invest in technology that is proven to reduce the environmental impact of printing

This isn’t about replacing perfectly fine printers and spending more on printing technology and supplies, but carrying out a full assessment of your office needs and measuring its impact on the environment. Here are suggestions for how this can be done in cost-effective ways:

  • Use Online Carbon Footprint Calculators which gauges the power usage of your PCs, monitors and printers. In a few clicks it can show how to reduce energy use and carbon footprint. Good tools include geographic-specific information for more than 146 countries.
  • When sourcing new printers and supplies, choose those that have an environmental eco-highlight e.g. they contain recycled plastic or have the ability to print duplex.
  • Investigate free and easy ways to recycle your products. There are programmes designed to allow businesses free and convenient print cartridge return options for original supplies.

By tackling sustainable printing in a multifaceted approach, printing can be conducted in a sustainable manner that can also help your business reduce its office costs. If businesses implement an effective printing system and use technology that reduces the environmental impact of printing, printing can remain an important, yet sustainable aspect of everyday business operations.