10 figures that will make you think twice before you press print

Printing is an everyday occurrence in any office. But do you know the hidden costs to the environment that are incurred every time you press print needlessly? Find out all you need to know about the impacts of printing and wasting paper, and about finding effective solutions to reduce your printing dramatically and become more eco-friendly.
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Businesswoman operating printer in office, unaware of paper waste and how the company could save money by not printing

As you may or may not know, World Paper Free Day 2017 is not far off, and will be taking place on 9th November. The annual event was established by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) and aims to raise awareness in offices across the globe of paper waste, the environmental issues that surround it, and the benefits of reducing paper usage.

As AIIM state on their official website for last year’s event, “Word Paper Free Day isn’t just about switching off printers, it’s about working smarter, decreasing the paper entry points, and improving our processes”. In order to build the enthusiasm to tackle those processes and reduce print waste and paper consumption though, it’s important to know why it’s so important. To that end, here we present 10 facts that may make you think twice about whether to print a particular document off, and help you convince others to do the same.

1. The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year – the equivalent of 20 reams of paper – and more than half of this is considered to be wasted.

2. Across the UK, over 12.5million tons of paper and cardboard are used every year. To put this into some kind of perspective, the Eiffel Tower weighs approximately 7,000 tons, so the total paper and card used annually by the UK alone weighs roughly the same as 1,785 copies of this giant landmark.

3. As with many things we consume, paper has a hidden environmental cost in terms of the water that is used to produce it. In fact, it can take as much as 10 litres of water to make a single sheet of paper. So to produce one office pack containing 500 sheets of paper, as much as 5000 litres of water may be used.

4. The resource of cost of printing is of course not limited to the amount of paper produced, consumed and wasted. Approximately 375million cartridges are thrown away every year – more than a million cartridges every day. Again, these cartridges take resources from the environment to produce, and the production process has further environmental implications…

5. Approximately 4.8kg of CO2 are emitted during the production and of one ink cartridge.

6. In the manufacturing process to create the toner or ink itself, roughly 3.2kg of CO2 is produced per cartridge.

7. Even once the cartridge is used up, it can continue to have a detrimental impact upon the environment. The bulk of the printer cartridge is made of plastics of a particularly resilient engineering grade. Printer cartridges that are not recycled generally end up in landfill sites, where they can take between 450 to 1,000 years to fully degrade. In addition to this, any leftover ink can leak out, causing further environmental issues.

8. Remember that these above statistics relate to just one printer cartridge. One factory can produce as much as 200,000 cartridges per month, and in doing so generates a similar level of carbon emissions to 500 average homes.

9. Approximately 1/5 of all UK waste consists of paper and card.

10. It is estimated that the total average annual printing cost per office employee is £436, so if you own a business or are responsible for budgets, you have a fairly convincing incentive for reducing the amount of printing that takes place.

Of course there are solutions available that can help you to dramatically decrease your printing costs, and the impact that your office has on the environment. Nuance’s printing solutions and digital software, such as Power PDF, can help you make the switch to a paperless, or at least paper-less, office.

Find out more about how to avoid non-essential printing and reduce print waste with Nuance’s printing solutions.

Sources:

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