Friday, 9 January 2009

Environmentally aware printing

Yesterday I received the Report of our Environmental Printing Review. Initially this was set up to answer some questions we had about the cost and environmental aspects of printing - are we spending too much on printing, is our Environmental Footprint from Printing and Photocopying too high, are we getting best value from our current assets including our own Print Service, and are we promoting best practice amongst our staff?

The report makes interesting reading - and concludes that we print too much, we don't use enough recycled paper, and we don't print efficiently. We don't know how many printers we have in the University other than networked ones, there is no printing policy in force and printer use is not currently monitored. There's also a lack of awareness of printing costs and how to make best use of printing facilities across the university, including use of the University Print Service.

The Education Sector in general is a big spender on print - it has the third biggest spend on external printing in the UK. I was surprised how little use we make of recycled paper - only 34% of all the paper sold through our central stores is recycled. Printing is also a big user of electricity, contributing to our carbon footprint - the total energy consumption needed to produce the paper that departments and the Print Service used during 2007/08 was 7809KWh, which resulted in 4.19 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

So, we need to reduce the amount of paper we use, ie stop printing as much. And when we do need to print it needs to be in the most energy efficient way possible, using recycled materials and appropriate machines.

Our next steps are to produce a printing policy and to include printers in our asset register.

There's also the BIG issue of culture change - how do we stop people printing everything, (in colour and single sided!) and demanding a printer on their desk. That last one could be tricky as I've got one.....

We've already started, but there's a lot of work still to do.


JonW. said...

I really shouldn't be surprised but I was taken aback somewhat by the fact that it is clear that many academic departments insist on paper submissions for assessments given the demand for student printing at certain points during the year. Surely a quick win in the effort reduction of printing and paper usage would be to allow the electronic submission of all student work where appropriate. If depts then really need to print them they can be done enmasse by themselves or via the Uni. Print Service which might be more cost effective than each individual student printing their own work out for submission. Also the costs of this are transferred from the student to the dept which is great for student satisfaction and an incentive for depts not to print unnecessarily.

Chris Sexton said...

Jon - I agree totally. This was one of the things we talked about yesterday. Not only do they ask for printed submissions, but often refuse to accept duplex, and ask for it to be double line spaced. So, the student has to print 4 pages where one should do - and it costs them 4 times as much.
We are raising it with the appropriate bodies!