5 Sustainable Printing Tips Everyone Should Follow
By Simon Williams - 30th Oct 2023

There are definite pros and cons to living in a globalised world. For instance, it is certainly better to be a heterogeneous society rather than a homogeneous one, as diversity in viewpoints only strengthens a population’s ability to think critically. Similarly, globalisation has allowed people from all corners of the world to work and study with organisations they would’ve never had access to without the internet and all of the resources we have for global communications today.

One of the most undeniably negative effects of globalisation, however, is the lack of infrastructure and processes to ensure sustainable workplace or production practices. Sustainability has never really been seen as a profitable endeavour for many workplaces, as an investment in sustainability largely affects internal organisational processes. In some cases, investing in sustainability may not even be able to yield any real short-term monetary benefits, as updating business tools like your office printer or going with local suppliers over international supply chains, can potentially add to your company’s production costs.

Despite number crunchers asserting that cultivating workplace sustainability isn’t a strictly profitable endeavour, there’s no denying that public sentiments surrounding sustainability are shifting. Nowadays, many consumers and employees alike are quick to boycott companies that don’t consider how sustainable their practices are, proving that office sustainability is by no means a fad, but a genuinely worthwhile practice in modern business.

Although many business owners possess a general understanding of prioritising sustainability as being the practice of minimising waste and exploring environmentally-friendly alternatives to existing business processes, many may not know what workplace sustainability looks like in practice. If you’d like to level up your sustainable habits and work to reduce your waste and minimise your carbon footprint, these 5 sustainable printing tips should help get you and your business on the right track.

1. Select the right suppliers

As modern business owners should know, the responsibility of sustainability doesn’t only fall on those using the printer. In truth, it starts well before the printer has even been unboxed. Your procurement team should design selection criteria that qualify potential supplies and business tools based on their environmental ratings or their outlined measures for sustainability.

This should include purchasing recycled printing paper, using a modern eco-friendly printer (i.e. a printer offering environmentally conscious features like auto duplex printing), and finding a cartridge supplier that offers a printer cartridge recycling programme. Finding a cartridge supplier that recycles your consumed printer ink cartridges will drastically reduce the size of your organisation’s carbon footprint, as printer cartridges that go straight to landfill once they’re depleted, take an abundance of potentially reusable materials with them.

A good rule of thumb for identifying sustainable suppliers and resources is to look for any who seek to contribute to a circular economy, effectively using recycling processes that allow them to rarely utilise new or unsustainably sourced materials in their production process. If you’re able to work with a supplier that participates in a circular economy, you should be ready to ensure that your business can do the same.

Companies that invest time and care in the reevaluation of their suppliers and the other resources they use, are more likely to present themselves to both potential customers as well as employees as being future-focused and conscientious.

2. Assess recycling habits and energy consumption

Whilst we did lightly touch upon printer ink cartridge recycling in our exploration of sustainable suppliers, we have to mention some of the unique challenges you may face as you prepare your business’ own recycling processes, just so you’re prepared for what lies ahead.

Basically, in the past it was only genuine manufacturer-produced cartridges that were able to be recycled, as only cartridge manufacturers like HP offered ink cartridge recycling schemes. Nowadays, however, reputable cartridge suppliers are able to offer their customers compatible ink cartridges, these being cartridges that aren’t produced by big name brands and are thus, available at more reasonable price points and potentially even in bulk.

Note that compatible cartridges are by no means the same as counterfeit cartridges, which are rarely actually compatible with modern printer models, as they lack the components that ensure printers can read information like printer ink levels. Reputable cartridge suppliers will ensure that none of the compatible cartridges they sell are counterfeit cartridges, providing you with peace of mind as you continue on with cultivating sustainable printing practices in your workplace.

If you’re concerned about the additional costs associated with recycling your printer cartridges, you’ll be happy to hear that CartridgesDirect actually allow our customers to send their depleted printer cartridges back to us free of charge with the use of mailing bags that come complimentary with the purchase of any printer ink and toner cartridges.

Of course, there’s more to office recycling and resources consumption than just cartridge recycling alone. You can help boost your office’s sustainability rating by monitoring energy consumption alongside paying attention to your other recycling habits. Recycle cardboard, paper, glass, and other recyclable materials wherever possible, and establish multiple bins in your office space to ensure that all materials are disposed of responsibly.

As for monitoring your energy consumption, you can give yourself a head start here by first recognising what the energy ratings are of your devices, and use this as a yardstick for future tech purchases. You may even decide to replace office tech entirely! Similarly to innovations in modern printing technology, modern appliances are already far more energy-efficient than their predecessors, so updating your office appliances and other devices will ensure that you are in a strong position from the outset to minimise your overall energy usage habits.

If you do decide to update your devices, however, we urge that you dispose of your e-waste responsibly, as there are plenty of materials and technological components in older devices that can still be put to use by modern manufacturers.

3. Utilise smart printing capabilities

In truth, there is more to printing than simply hitting CTRL + P, especially so in this digital age where smart printing capabilities allow printer users to fully customise and optimise their print jobs and take control of their printing habits. However, although wireless printing capabilities are offering business owners and their employees with greater convenience in the workplace, this method of printing also comes with its fair share of security concerns.

Thankfully, with print authentication processes and additional services available to modern organisations like managed print services (or MPS), smart printing capabilities can now be a force for good, both with regards to its security measures as well as the role that this technology can play in sustainable printing practices.

Business owners are taking advantage of the many authentication processes that are available to them today, mainly in order to avoid unnecessary wastage throughout the printing process. For instance, many businesses utilise smart printing capabilities to ensure that sensitive documents are not carelessly left in printer trays, with the responsible printer user having to go to the printer to authenticate the print job. Naturally, this has a passive benefit of avoiding unnecessary prints that all modern offices are undeniably guilty of.

This is where a managed print service (MPS) holds value to particularly larger businesses who may struggle with minimising their printing activities. An MPS essentially acts as an invisible partner that works to optimise your printing environment and suggest actionable changes that will minimise your workplace carbon footprint alongside your utility bills.

4. Tighten your printing processes

This one may seem like low hanging fruit, but tightening your printing processes will make a huge impact on your workplace’s capacity for sustainability. So, what does this look like? You can explore the option of bringing in protocols for organising or archiving documents electronically rather than physically in order to reduce print reliance, such as establishing a cloud-based folder where documents can be added and shared so users can view online without needing to print.

You can also communicate with your key stakeholders and clients in order to ascertain whether they would accept digital copies of collateral and contracts instead of hard-copies, which might actually propel your position as an ethical business. Securing your business multifunction printers may help you easily send scanned documents straight to clients or customers via email.

You can also take these sustainable efforts a step further by using recycled paper for writing memos or even for necessary interdepartmental printing jobs, thereby giving old paper new life.

5. Define the lifecycle of your printer

Finally, knowing what to do with your printer when its useful life comes to an end is something that needs to be discussed in any workplace, as there are correct and incorrect procedures to follow when discarding technology. A great portion of modern technologies that are available to consumers today is being produced using recycled materials, as a means of supporting and upholding circular economies across the globe.

Even smaller and medium-sized businesses should aim to continue this circular economy by not only returning depleted cartridges to their manufacturers, but also printers that have reached the end of their useful life, so that manufacturers and other recycling agencies can extract reusable materials to be reentered into a circular production line. More often than not, finding e-waste initiatives is actually an easy solution for busy workplaces, as your depleted units may even be collected by relevant representatives so that you don’t actually need to discard them yourself.

It may also be worth having a maintenance professional or industry body review the unit before you replace it, as the unit might be able to be rented out to another office who are in need of a cheaper solution.

Forward-thinking business owners can ensure the longevity of their businesses by investing in their own sustainability, whether it be by revisiting your existing business processes, or switching out suppliers for local alternatives in order to cut down on transport emissions, and drastically reduce the size of your company’s carbon footprint.

These are just five sustainable practices that you can implement in your workplace to create a significant positive environmental impact as a collective. By leading with an environmental and ethically-focused stance, your team will also be empowered to follow these procedures both in and outside of their office space. If you would like to learn more about how CartridgesDirect contributes to this necessary movement, contact us today.

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