Unnecessary printing and photocopying does not just waste paper; it wastes energy too. Managing your equipment and usage properly will allow you to save both.
Energy consumed by printers/copiers varies widely but in general, the faster the print speed and the higher the print quality, the greater energy consumption. Printers can consume 30-40% of their peak power demand when idling between printing and standby modes so minimising this time can result in good cost savings, reduce heat output and increase the operating life of the printer.
Low-cost, quick wins
Switch off. Switch off equipment at the end of every day and only switch on when required the following day. Allocate responsibility for switching off machines to one person to ensure this is carried out at the end of each day. Enable printer standby modes and print in batches where possible to allow the machine to spend more time in standby than idling. Newer printers start up faster, so employees are more likely to be happy about turning them off. Install a plug-in seven-day timer to reduce the likelihood of machines being left on out of hours.
Use the right printer for the job. Print internal documents with no immediate time requirements on slower black and white machines. Only use colour when absolutely necessary. Encourage staff to use print preview functions for checking layout and style instead of printing.
Default to meet most likely demand. Make it school policy to set default printing to double-sided (duplex). Reduce the default print quality for internal documents and draft outputs to increase print speeds and reduce toner use. Decrease print margins to minimise paper use.
Raise awareness. Keep staff informed of the energy that printers use. Encourage them to question their printing habits such as printing unnecessary documents and forgetting to collect them from the printer. Ask staff to think carefully about the number of copies actually required so as to save on energy, paper and waste disposal costs. Staff should be made aware of the amount of paper used each month and encouraged (or incentivised) to reduce this. Consider introducing 'soft limits' for individual staff or departments to show staff the real cost of their printing.
Standby to save energy. For regular printing, purchase a machine with the lowest operating consumption as it is unlikely to be idle for long enough to go into standby.
Select a printer with the lowest standby consumption for occasional printing and where usage fluctuates, consider a machine with multiple standby steps so it can enter a higher level of standby between uses.
Consider printer functions. When buying new equipment, ensure printers have options for duplex printing, reducing print quality and using lower melting point inks.
Consider software that connects printers with a server rather than directly with computers. This allows the school to deploy new printers and update drives more easily, set duplex and black and white printing as standard, and users have to opt in for single sided and colour printing.
Printer provision. Replacing many small printers in individuals' offices with larger managed devices which are both lower cost per-page and produce higher quality prints. These allow the set-up of a print release system enabling users to collect prints from any device after entering a pin number and confirming the number and type of copies. This reduces those documents that get sent to a printer and then forgotten or thrown away because they're no longer needed.
Put scrap paper trays in each classroom, and in the school offices, the copier room and other places where lots of paper is generated. Paper and card contributes around one third of all school waste.
Issue staff with tablets or laptops. This can be an effective way of replacing printed registers, notes and papers with electronic versions. This requires good wireless coverage, and increase backend server storage so staff can keep more documents digitally rather than store printed papers on shelves.
How to write a policy statement on reducing energy and resource use from printing and photocopying.
- Write a Statement of Commitment: For example: This school is reducing its carbon emissions, and impacts on the environment in order to protect our world for our pupils, and equip our pupils with knowledge and skills for their future.
- Objectives: For example: The overall aim of our policy on reducing energy and resource use from printing and photocopying is to reduce energy, paper and ink wastage, enable us to use more of our funds for education, minimise environmental damage, and help raise awareness of sustainable energy issues.
- We Will: Review this policy on a regular basis. Reduce our paper printing/copying by 5% (or another figure of your choice) each year. Integrate this work with curriculum activities . Communicate this work to all staff and pupils.
- Monitoring: Our energy team (or suitable alternative) will monitor our printing and recycling rates and feedback to the rest of the school in assembly once a month/term.
- Our Action Plan: Use the quick wins above to write an action plan suitable for your school.