How educational establishments can reduce the cost and environmental impact of printing

Right Digital Solutions

Every workplace needs to have sustainable printing policies. For educational establishments, the need is even greater.

Firstly, the volume of printing required, in order to make the materials have an educational impact, is significantly higher than most workplaces.

This is complicated further by the pressure institutions face to reduce their environmental impact, as well as an increasing student population and stringent budgets.

At Right Digital Solutions, we have specialised in managing the print environment for all types of educational establishments for many years.

Here are our 14 top tips for reducing the cost and environmental impact of your learning establishment’s printing:

  1. Print in black and white

Set your printers to black and white as their default setting. Printing in colour can cost up to 300 per cent more per sheet than printing in black and white!

  1. Print double-sided 

Set your printers to print double-sided, this will immediately halve the amount of paper you use and, in conjunction with a move to black and white, you will see savings straight away.

  1. Use both sides of your paper 

Accidents happen but that doesn’t mean you should just throw those pieces of paper away. If you’re not automictically setting your printers to the double-sided option, introduce wastepaper trays so teachers and office staff can print on the reverse.

  1. Double check what you’re printing

If the PDF or word document you’re printing has multiple pages, does every page really need to be printed?  Some may have one or two lines of text on them, could you reduce the size to reduce the pagination or leave certain pages out all together?

  1. Introduce transparency

Give each member of staff their own login number. This will enable you to track who is printing the most. Obviously, there may be very good reasons why they are printing more than their colleagues but if not, at least you can encourage them to be more – shall we say – careful going forward.

  1. Let users know how much things cost

Often teachers and professors aren’t aware how much things cost in schools, colleges or universities. Make them aware (for example by putting a price list near the printers and photocopiers) so they know how much paper and ink cost. Alternatively, you could set your print management software to provide this information via pop ups.

  1. Put up environmental reminders

Similarly, you can also put more environmentally focused reminders up near your the printers and photocopiers. Asking users if they really need to print is a start, but it’ll have more impact if you use symbols like the universally recognised green recycling emblem.

You can also strengthen your message by reminding people it’s not just electricity usage and paper wastage that impact the environment. Ink and toner also have a hugely negative impact on the environment because of the chemicals in them.

  1. Monitor which printers are being used

Regularly check whether all the printers on your contract are actually being used.  You may find you’re paying for a few that have long been tucked away and forgotten about.

  1. Work closely with your supplier

If your printers automatically send a reading to your supplier, audit the results its sending at regular intervals. It may be that it is over counting or that your supplier can use the readings to identify improvements to the way you manage your print.

  1. Get your students involved

If you make your students aware you are trying to reduce the level of printing internally, they may have their own ideas as to how things can be improved. They can also be on hand in the classroom to remind their teachers what’s been agreed!

  1. Use recycled paper

If you’re serious about reducing your eco-footprint, why not use recycled paper?  Wood pulp is not the only harmful raw material used in paper production, so using recycled paper reduces the amount of chemicals and other industrial resources being used. It also improves wastepaper management as it can be removed and reused.

  1. Control Consumables

Keep control of who orders consumables. If staff are buying inks for desktop printers this can be a hidden and uncontrolled cost. We have found some organisations have toners and inks for printers that they no longer own!

  1. Use eco-friendly printers

Electricity use is one of the main environmental impacts of printing. This can be significantly reduced by using printers with a positive eco-rating.  An eco-friendlier printer is not only likely to use less electricity, it will probably also produce less potentially harmful emissions.

  1. Choose a supplier with the same objectives as you

There is of course a huge choice when it comes to print suppliers but if you are serious about reducing both your print costs and your environmental impact, you need to choose a supplier with the same aims:

  • Will your costs and usage be continually assessed?
  • Will you get straightforward, practical and implementable recommendations that match your objectives?
  • Is your partner committed to finding new and better ways for you to operate?
  • Are they committed to recycling old hardware rather than simply sending it to landfill?

We do. And we match all of this to a long, successful, and proven track record of working within the education sector.

Our hugely experienced managed print team is here to help you review your current print processes and ensure your organisation has the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly approach moving forward.

The process starts with a comprehensive print audit designed to identify your key objectives and current situation. Once we have completed this, we provide our recommendations to drive down your cost base and carbon footprint whilst enjoying all the key service deliverables.

To find out more about our free audit or to ask us to conduct an audit for your educational establishment, contact our specialist education team today.