At Capital Business Systems, we take the environmental impact of printing very seriously. We practice environmental responsibility ourselves, and encourage all of our clients to do the same.
So how do printers affect the environment? You might not imagine that printing off a word document can have that much impact. But as part of a larger chain of events, it can.
At most businesses, paper is huge 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 to 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 waste water can find its way into our fresh water sources.
Printer ink is toxic to human beings, but in most cases, you would need to directly ingest it to see the effects. However, there are chemicals in printer inks that can be harmful to the environment, as well as petroleum oil and non-biodegradable plastic casing found in some ink and toner cartridges.
The negative impact of simply throwing an old ink or toner cartridge into the garbage are plentiful. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals in ink can lead to soil and even water pollution when left in landfill, while plastic can take thousands of years to degrade and even then, they will continue to pollute the soil.
Compared to the consumables we mention above, your printer actually has relatively little impact beyond energy usage. Still, it’s important to ensure that you only have your printer turned on when you need it (this includes running cleaning cycles) and making sure 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 in a different manner to regular waste.
Time to panic?
Yes, your printer can have quite the impact on the environment. Does this mean we should all stop printing? Absolutely not. Just keep these basic rules in mind:
• Think before you print, and 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 you’re ready 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.