How To Reduce The Environmental Impact Of Your Office

January 14, 2022 | Kyle Kopp

Among the many newer concerns that weigh heavy on the minds of business leaders today, environmental impact of an organization remains a steadfast consternation and area of focus.  At Advanced Office we too remain dedicated to limiting the impacts of our business on the environment around us.  In fact, we are proud to have been recognized as an Eco Excellence dealership by Ricoh USA for the efforts we’ve taken internally to reduce waste.  So, what actions can you and your business take when it comes to your printing and copying activities to reduce the carbon footprint you leave behind?  Let’s run through a few here.

 Perhaps the most impactful byproducts of printers and copiers are the depleted ink and toner cartridges.  Once you’ve consumed the material inside, many empty cartridges are discarded along with normal waste.  Most estimates have a decomposition time for these cartridges at almost 1,000 years, during which heavy metals and other elements can seep into the ground and pollute the soil as well as water supplies.  While the plastics and metal components of these cartridges are recyclable material, municipal recycling programs will not accept them as part of their services because they require specialized equipment and handling as part of a breakdown process.  For this reason, most equipment manufacturers have instituted their own recycling programs to collect spent cartridges and use the product in the creation of new cartridges.  This eliminates the used materials sitting in a landfill and reduces the amount of new raw material the manufacturer needs to collect and refine.  Best of all, most of these programs are free to use, with freight even paid in advance by the manufacturer.  For those that don’t offer a recycling program, there are also several third-party operations that will gladly collect your cartridge and break down the components in their specialized facilities to make sure they can be reused in other capacities.  For more information on toner and recycling, you can see our page outlining several options available to you.

Exacerbating the normal use and replacement of cartridges is the tendency for some end users to prematurely replace cartridges in their devices.  This is especially common among color units where each color is separated into its own cartridge.  To simplify activities, some users will replace all four colors even if the device is only calling for one, in order to save time in their day-to-day activities (ie. a single action is easier than four).  We’re assuming in this example that our end user is on a toner inclusive contract and not concerned with wasting money by throwing out cartridges that they have purchased earlier then needed.  Toners and ink are chemical products which OSHA considers flammable and a known carcinogen.  Throwing this away is more than just wasteful, it’s dangerous.  To reduce this from taking place, Advanced Office offers an Automated Toner Replenishment program that automatically (and only) ships toner based on your devices level.  This ensures there are no toners sitting on your shelves, taking up valuable real estate, that are not soon needed by the device, removing the temptation of an end user to replace a toner that is not yet depleted.  Ask us how you can get your organization on an Automated Toner Replenishment program and reduce your risk of producing excess waste.

The second biggest byproduct of the printing process is a little more obvious: paper.  Many of us are already accustomed to recycling our papers when we’re done with them, dropping them in that little blue bin under our desk to be collected, shredded, and recycled with the rest of the organizations no longer needed documents.  While this strategy is great for keeping these papers out of the landfill, the truth is they’re still not as environmentally friendly as if they had never been printed at all.  You see, there’s still the matter of the original tree being cut down to create the sheet you printed on, read, and quickly discarded.  There is also the matter of recycling plants using electricity and burning fossil fuel to power their operations while paper mills burn waste wood in their production.  Recycling the paper is obviously the better option than not recycling but eliminating the unnecessary print all together is that much better.  So how can you control that?  A Managed Print Program will allow for a usage expert to identify areas of your operation that are printing in excess compared to the rest of your company.  You can then investigate the cause of the excess printing and look to limit it.  By installing control software on your devices, you can limit end users’ abilities to unnecessarily print or allow them to collect their print jobs more easily.  After all, duplicate printing due to lost or misplaced print jobs is also a real issue with as much as 30% of all print jobs being reprinted when the end user could not locate the document.  Check here for more information on Managed Print Solutions and to request a free assessment of your current fleet.

While controlling wasted prints is a great achievement, you can take it even farther by also reducing the printing of documents you really do need.  How, you ask?  By fully digitizing your document process with Document Management Workflow.  Rather than print your document out physically to review and then file, keep it in a digital form that can be shared, reviewed, edited and cloud stored for easy access and retrieval as needed. This can limit your paper output and also free up a ton of real estate in your office with the removal of large filing cabinets.  Add to that the fact it also solves the challenges of remote workers being able to access documents in your office and you’ve now taken your business process into the next century.  If you’d like to review our Document Managed Workflow options, check this out.

These are just the tip of the iceberg in ways you can make your day-to-day business process more eco-friendly.  If you’d like to learn more about our Green Initiatives, visit our environmental impact page.