At Capital Business Systems, we take the environmental impact of printing very seriously. We practice environmental responsibility ourselves and encourage our clients to do the same.

So, how do printers affect the environment? Just printing off a Word document might have minimal impact, but it multiplies as part of a larger chain of events.

Paper Production

At most businesses, paper is a massive source of waste. Although we are all turning to digital communications at an increasing rate, paper is still king. On average, paper accounts for over 12,500 tons of waste in the US. Carelessly discarded documents, ignored and unnecessary memos, misprints, etc. It’s easy to see where such an astronomical figure comes from.

The wasting of paper, of course, leads to demand for even more paper. The demand for more paper leads to deforestation. The dangers of deforestation and its effects on our planet are well documented.

Paper production also adds a significant amount of pollution to our atmosphere and our water supplies. Paper mills frequently release harmful gases such as CO2 and Nitrogen Dioxide into the atmosphere when producing, while water plays a big part in the pulping process. The resulting wastewater can find its way into our freshwater sources.

Printer Cartridges

Printer ink is toxic to human beings, but in most cases, you would need to ingest it to see the effects directly. However, there are chemicals in printer inks that can harm the environment, as well as petroleum oil and non-biodegradable plastic casing found in some ink and toner cartridges.

The negative impact of throwing an old ink or toner cartridge into the garbage is plentiful. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals in ink can lead to soil and even water pollution when left in landfills, while plastic can take thousands of years to degrade, and even then, it will continue to pollute the soil.

Your Printer

Compared to the consumables mentioned above, your printer has relatively little impact beyond energy usage. Still, it’s essential to ensure that you only have your printer turned on when you need it (including running cleaning cycles) and that it is energy efficient.

The real environmental issues with the printer come when disposing of a printer. Electronic waste needs to be dealt with differently from regular garbage.

Time to panic?

Yes, your printer can have quite an impact on the environment. Does this mean we should all stop printing? No. Just keep these basic rules in mind:

• Think before you print; if you need to dispose of printed materials, recycle them.

• Always recycle your ink or toner cartridges when possible. Contact your vendor or even the manufacturer for directions.

• When it is time to retire that old printer, check for trade-in opportunities. Or, find a local charity that accepts donations.

For more information on environmentally responsible print solutions, please contact us today.