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Tech Check

14 ways schools can use print to become more environmentally and more cost-efficient

Every workplace needs to have sustainable printing policies.  For schools the need is even greater.

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

This is complicated further by the pressure to reduce the impact the school is having on its immediate environment (especially as the number of pupils will undoubtedly be growing in line with our increasing population) whilst having to operate within increasingly stringent budgets.

As we have specialised in managing the print environment for all types of schools and other educational facilities for many years, we thought it may be useful for us to share what we have learned and provide our 14 top tips for reducing the cost and environmental impact of your school’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% more per sheet than printing in black and white!

2. 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.

3.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 waste paper trays so teachers and office staff can print on the reverse.

4. 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?

5. 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.

6. Let users know how much things cost

Often teachers aren’t aware how much things cost in school.  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.

7. Put up environmental reminders

Similarly, you can also put more environmentally focused reminders up near your school’s 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.

8. 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.

9. 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 overcounting or that your supplier can use the readings to identify improvements to the way you manage your print

10. Get your pupils involved

If you make your pupils aware you are trying to reduce the level of printing in school, 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 …!

11. 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 waste paper management as your waste paper can be removed and reused.

12. 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!

13. 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.  A more eco-friendly printer is not only likely to use less electricity, it will probably also produce less potentially harmful emissions.

14. 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 school environment.

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

The process starts with a comprehensive but independent print audit designed to identify your key objectives and current situation.  Once we complete the audit, we’ll provide our recommendations as to the best way to drive down your cost base and your carbon footprint whilst enjoying all the key service deliverables you need to make sure your school continues to operate as it should.

To find out more about our free audit or to ask us to conduct an audit for your school, please email our specialist education team today.