14 Aug 2018

Printing doesn't have to cost the earth

What is sustainable printing and paper?

Most people would agree that environmental sustainability and the future of the earth is important.
However, it can be hard to maintain an ongoing approach to sustainability. Especially when
sustainability measures cost more than the unsustainable alternatives, it’s tempting for businesses to
default to non-sustainable measures.

Even for businesses that are committed to sustainability, it needs to be about more than just getting a
green logo or certification, or paying lip service to environmental practices.

Sustainable printing seems like an oxymoron

Printing, by definition, requires resources that aren’t traditionally environmentally-friendly.

Despite many business owners’ best intentions, the paperless office never really eventuated. While
we’ve certainly reduced the amount of paper we use in the workplace, printing remains an unavoidable
part of doing business.

If you’re looking to minimise your environmental impact, you may worry about the cost of printing from
energy usage to paper and ink usage. Sustainable printing and paper is possible.

How to achieve sustainable printing
There are three key steps you can take to achieve sustainable printing:

  1. Choose recycled paper.
  2. Select a printer with strong environmental credentials.
  3. Implement strong print governance and culture around sustainable printing.

Recycled paper versus virgin paper

100 per cent recycled paper uses zero trees, 33 per cent less energy, releases 37 per cent less
greenhouse gases, almost halves the amount of wastewater involved in the process, and uses 39 per
cent less solid waste. 1 So it’s the right choice for a business that wants to be environmentally smart.

In the old days, you could pick recycled paper from virgin paper based on quality alone. However, the
quality has improved markedly and, now, it’s hard to tell the difference between recycled and non-
recycled paper.

Recycled paper should be at least 30 per cent recycled but 100 per cent recycled paper is the best
option because it uses less bleaching than conventional paper and reduces the use of toxic chemicals.
Recycled paper incorporates full-cycle production costs, which takes responsibility for the entire lifecycle
of the paper. You should do due diligence to ensure you’re choosing products produced by companies
that are environmentally sustainable with a low carbon footprint.

To have the greatest environmental impact, you should choose the most environmental option within
the grade of paper that you plan to use. This means you don’t need to compromise on paper quality to
meet your environmental objectives.

Choosing the right printer

Modern printers tend to include features like energy-saving standby modes. It’s important to look for these clearly eco-friendly features and to ensure the provider uses environmentally-sustainable manufacturing processes.

For example, Konica Minolta printers include the following environmental features:

  • Induction heating (IH) fixing unit. Konica Minolta’s solution reduces overall power consumption including shortening warm-up time with its new toner fusing technology. IH fixes the toner rapidly, so you can use aggressive power-save mode times.
  • Simitri HD toner uses plant-based materials that are renewable and organic rather than synthetic chemicals. This means no fossil fuels are used and it generates considerably less CO2.
  • The plastics used to make the devices are a proprietary recycled PET-based polymer alloy that is environmentally considerate. This material is actually less fragile, more fire-resistant, and easier to mould as well as having a lower environmental impact.
  • Lower power consumption means Konica Minolta’s printers consume little electrical power and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as energy bills.
  • The toner loop mechanism, in selected monochrome multifunction and single function printers, collects unused toner from each job and recirculates it. Normally, between five and 10 per cent of toner is wasted; the toner loop mechanism reduces that to zero.

Choosing the right printers and streamlining your fleets can ensure that your office printers are as environmentally-sustainable as it’s possible to be.

The importance of good print governance

Setting a culture of environmental sustainability is also important to maximise your team members’ contribution. For example, setting cultural expectations around minimising printing is important. You can also set rules to reduce the amount of paper and resources used. For example, mandating that team members print documents double-sided can reduce the amount of paper that gets wasted.

Pull printing is another way to reduce the amount of wasted paper. Requiring users to input a code or swipe a card at the printer before their document will print out eliminates the chance that they’ll print a document and then forget about it. When that happens, usually the user reprints it or colleagues eventually throw it away; either way, the paper is wasted.

Want to find out more?

To learn more about Konica Minolta’s sustainability practices and eco-friendly products, contact our friendly sales team today.

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