How to promote sustainability in your print environment

How to promote sustainability in your print environment

As our world becomes increasingly more focused on sustainability and reducing our environmental impact, businesses are looking for ways to become more eco-friendly.

With this in mind, many businesses are adopting new ways to positively impact environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards set forth by investors and stakeholders today.

An organisation’s overall ESG rating is assessed by how much effort they have put towards being eco-conscious. For many businesses, this often starts with making small changes, like re-thinking the way we print.

Despite the effort to make sustainable change, many leaders face several challenges in attaining an environmentally conscious future.

Read on to discover some of the potential obstacles your team may face as you work to embrace a more sustainable print culture — as well as the solutions you can use to potentially gain a competitive edge.

Common causes of waste

Many companies are unaware of the volume of refuse and disposable materials their daily operations create. Some of the more common sources of waste throughout a print environment include:

  • Excessive and unnecessary print jobs: Wastes consumables and paper, and also increases wear and tear on the machine
  • Non-essential colour printing: Can consume excess energy and runs through ink at a faster rate
  • Improper storage: If not stored in the proper conditions, inks and toners can be damaged
  • Irregular maintenance: Improper use can shorten your device’s lifespan, leading to frequent breakdowns or replacements
  • Leaving machines running: Excess energy consumption is an invisible form of waste, but an exceptionally powerful one

Becoming mindful of these common sources of waste can help your organisation reduce unnecessary resource consumption.

A lady printing sustainably from her printer at home in the living room.
Brother offers a variety of print devices offering energy-efficiency solutions

How to make your print hardware more sustainable

Many existing office devices and protocols can be optimised to be more sustainable. Improving the environmental impact of your daily operations can substantially lower your carbon footprint and produce significant cost savings over time.
Efforts to drive sustainable printing practices include:

  • Using eco mode: Reduces power consumption
  • Toner Save mode: Eliminates unnecessary waste of consumables
  • Choosing high-yield supplies: Larger capacity consumables can reduce your carbon footprint. By reducing the waste that comes with replenishment packaging and the emissions produced shipping small-size replacements to your place of work, investing in high-yield can help reduce your carbon footprint over the course of the year

Although embracing these eco-friendly practices can help, it’s important to keep in mind that it will take an organisation-wide change to see an impact on your team’s overall habits.

Initiatives to improve your sustainability efforts

To achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the 2030 target, today’s businesses are embracing these initiatives:

Make waste reduction a critical business practice

The Brother Group established the 5R concept to help set guidelines for active participation in sustainability efforts.

  • REDUCE waste material by recycling
  • REUSE products and waste material
  • REFUSE to buy environmentally unfriendly products
  • REFORM materials and use again
  • RECYCLE rather than scrap

Go digital

Workflow automation offers multiple benefits. The digitisation of old paper records and documents will improve office space, and increase cross-department communication. Scanners and multi-function centres (MFCs) integrated with document management software allow your organisation to transform paper documents into searchable data with Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Once digitised, your documents will be securely stored and easily shared over great distances. These efforts support collaboration among hybrid and remote workers, and potential cost savings can include a reduction in office spend on materials like paper and ink.

Empower your remote workforce

In addition to decreasing the carbon footprint associated with travel to and from the office, today’s remote capable workforce supports sustainability efforts. By staying home, employees reduce electricity and disposable materials consumption at the office. The Families in Australia survey discovered that 67% of Australians were sometimes or always working from home. Today’s mobile print solutions allow your remote workforce to remain productive anywhere, with labelling and print technologies that can connect to office software away from the office. This ensures communication and collaboration can remain, even in situations where employees are working off-premises.

Support sustainability initiatives

Product stewardship management initiatives like the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark recycling program provide country-wide collection programs for end-of-life devices and consumables with a zero-waste landfill guarantee. Participating in free initiatives not only guarantees the proper disposal of your used materials and resources, but also promotes awareness of your efforts to aid sustainability in your community. By partnering with sustainability initiatives, your business will build brand loyalty and join a community of other like-minded enterprises.

As you promote these initiatives, be sure to highlight eco-friendly print habits your team can implement right away, such as:

  • Duplex printing: Two-sided manual printing reduces your paper output by 50% and can easily be configured in the event your Brother printer does not support automatic duplex printing
  • Print only what’s necessary: The increasing push towards digitisation, plus awareness regarding the inconvenience and potential loss associated with paper records, has many organisations reducing their paper records and data by employing a document management system
  • Printing in black and white: Reducing the amount of colour documents printed can lower consumables spend and cut down on the amount of cartridge use
  • Printing in wider margins and smaller fonts: In the event of longer documents, efforts to reduce the space needed per character can aid in ink and paper consumption
  • Draft mode: Some printers provide the functionality to print in a lower resolution and quality, which can also lower office ink consumption
Man sitting at his workstation in front of a computer screen with greenery in the background a printer.
Print management services can help highlight ways reduce cost and increase the efficiency of your office resources

Benefits of a print management system

Print management systems like PaperCut can enforce the best practices and tricks outlined above in one user-friendly software solution:

  • Print visibility and reporting: The sustainability dashboard of print management systems provides direct line of sight into the tasked jobs that are impacting your resource management strategy
  • Print quotas and user permissions: Restricting access to the volume of total print jobs – as well as the members of your workforce who can utilise your hardware – can aid in limiting office print volume
  • Secure Print Release: Avoid duplicate prints or unauthorised access to sensitive data by ensuring your job doesn’t print until you’re at the machine
  • Customisable pop-up messages: These efficiency-aiding protocols can remind staff of company initiatives such as black-and-white only printing once a print job is queued

Partnering for a cleaner tomorrow

Brother proudly stands behind businesses committed to change. Our at your side mentality endeavours to promote the environmentally responsible efforts that will aid our Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Since expressing support for the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) in 2020, we have participated in scenario analysis of the impact climate change poses to our business. The Brother Group Environmental Vision 2050 highlights our commitment to achieving carbon neutrality in our business emissions by 2050.

By following the examples set by other sustainably-conscious business operators – and adopting a few easily implemented strategies – your organisation can join the pledge to a brighter, environmentally responsible future. To learn more about how our print solutions can aid your sustainable business operations, contact us today.


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