Ideas for green printing

Stay clear of greenwash

The pursuit to buy green can be baffling for consumers as so many vendors make claims of being green and it is hard to determine what’s valid and what is greenwashing. When considering a printing vendor look carefully at the environmental credentials for substance. There are a number of factors you can look for in determining whether they really do constitute a green choice or whether it is simply marketing spin.

Look very carefully at the vendor’s toner cartridges – drum versus cartridge replacement

The printer itself is not necessarily the main culprit when considering environmental impact. Choosing a printer that can print duplex and has power saving features such as stand by mode are the main simple considerations here. The printer generally sits on the desk doing its job for three years or so, while hundreds upon hundreds of toner cartridges are consumed.

It is the toner cartridge itself that requires careful consideration regarding what it contains, how it can be recycled and how efficient it is in terms of the amount of waste it contributes.

Look carefully at the sort of toner cartridges the vendor’s equipment uses. Are they constructed of recyclable material without too many nasties? How much waste is created when they are replaced? For instance very few printers simply require a small toner cartridge when the toner runs out, most require the entire drum to be replaced. This adds a huge amount of waste which is difficult to recycle, not to mention the additional financial cost to the consumer. It is a worthwhile investment seeking out a vendor who has got this nailed as it will save thousands of dollars to the business and is the best environmental choice by far.

Are the vendor committed to Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS)?

Look carefully at the vendor’s commitment or lack thereof to RoHS. RoHS originated in Europe and restricts the use of specific hazardous materials in electronic and electrical products, specifically those which are harmful to the environment, pollute landfills and are dangerous to humans when manufactured and recycled. The substances ROHS seeks to restrict are lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, cadmium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE).

Unlike Europe, it is not mandatory in Australia or New Zealand to comply with a ROHS standard, so a vendor who has made a commitment to ROHS is likely to be committed to reducing the impact of their devices on the environment.

Do the vendor have ISO 14001 accreditation?

It’s easy for a vendor to claim they are green and their products don’t harm the environment, but do it have the ISO 14001 accreditation - the worldwide standard for environmental management systems?

Again, it is not a mandatory requirement and entails a rigorous process to attain, and keep, the accreditation. The organisation is audited at least every 12 months and re-certified every three years to ensure they are still entitled to accreditation and it’s certainly no walk in the park. Systems and processes are scrutinised as per the standards set out by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

An organisation that has gone to the effort and expense to achieve ISO 14001 accreditation is one demonstrating its commitment to developing an environmental policy and considering the environmental consequences of all its processes and business practices.

Managed Print Services – it’s the new black when it comes to printing

A vendor who has sound environmental credentials and offers full Managed Print Services (MPS) is a good solution for those who want a green printing solution without the hassle of changing their own internal processes.

MPS means the customer only needs to think about the piece of paper that comes out of the printer. A carefully selected vendor with the right green credentials handles everything else like toner replacement, responsible toner cartridge recycling, servicing of the equipment and collection and recycling of the device at the end of its useful life.

Equally as important, the vendor (particularly if it is device agnostic in terms of printers versus multifunction devices, meaning it does not have have any bias towards device type) can ensure the customer has the right sized fleet and the right mix of devices for their operation. Rather than disparate pieces of equipment everywhere you optimise the workflow and assets and minimise waste in terms of energy consumption and emissions. Many a misguided business have larger, more energy hungry devices doing the job that a smaller more efficient machine could accomplish had the needs of the business been carefully assessed upfront.

David Finn is the managing director of Kyocera Mita Australia and New Zealand.

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Tags ISO 14001RoHSmanaged print servicesgreen ITsustainable ITprinting

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