Easy ways to reduce wasteful paper use

Pushing the print button is too easy...and wasteful. So much paper is wasted by printing out single line e-mails or printing out unnecessary copies of documents.

Businesses should carefully assess their needs before ordering bulk print copies of information materials, like annual reports or brochures. In many cases hundreds, if not thousands, of unused copies end up in storage rooms clogging up storage space.


Post in-house reminders near copy machines or individual desktops

  • Use catchy slogans like: "Do you really need to print that?" or "Do you know how many sheets of paper you used last month?"


Track personal printing "footprints"

  • Create systems that allow staff to measure how many print copies they are personally responsible for each month. Most people are shocked to find out how much the consume. This knowledge will motivate people to reduce their personal paper footprint.
  • By tracking individual printing quantities, staff will be able to measure changes over time. One way to promote less printing is by running in-house competitions for “Paper Saving Champion” of the month – whoever prints the least copies wins!


Reduce print runs

  • Undergo an inventory to identify past printing jobs for which too many copies were ordered. This will help ensure that the quantity ordered matches demand for printing jobs in the future.
  • Publicize the results of your inventory in-house on the office notice board or in the company newsletter.
  • Create a checklist for those departments which order informational materials. The checklist should include asking:
    • How many required recipients and back-up copies are needed.
    • Are you sure these target groups will need a hard copy of the report or is it enough to point them to a website?
    • Do they need to be proactively sent the hard copy or is it sufficient to make it available upon request?
    • Do you need in-house copies for all staff or can copies be held in communal areas/on notice boards?
    • How many reserve copies do you require and why? For what events or purposes?
    • Who will distribute or oversee the distribution of the reserve copies?


Review distribution lists frequently

  • Eliminate outdated or unnecessary recipients.
  • See if destinations with many recipients can make do with fewer copies.


Conduct paper-less meetings

  • When you hold a meeting, do you really need to have hard copies of preparatory materials available for each participant?
  • Encourage people to use their computers for reviewing documents and note-making
  • Make sure meeting participants have electronic access to all the materials beforehand. Encourage those using computers not to print out copies. If you must, supply additional materials at the meeting. Consider burning CDs for all participants.
  • Make copies “as needed” rather than in large batches at one time. Frequently, extra copies of important internal documents become outdated quickly and only end up being discarded. Making copies as needed can reduce this problem significantly.

Use paper more efficiently

Copying images on both sides of a sheet of paper can save up to 50% of paper costs.

Copying images on both sides, or duplexing, saves money on paper purchasing, as well as on storage and mailing. Duplex copies are also easier to fold and staple. While some prints and copies need to be single-sided, most do not.


Set defaults on computers

  • Set defaults to double sided. Select one-sided printing only when really needed.
  • Print double-sided for bills, applications, licenses and other paper-intensive activities.
  • For help how to set default settings click here
  • If your printer cannot double-side then find out whether your printer can be fitted with a duplexing unit to enable it to print double-sided.
  • Make "rethink" messages appear on screen when a print command is given


Change your computer’s default settings so that you can put more text on each page

  • In MS Word, go to "File", then to "Page Setup". Then choose "Reduce the Margins" and set your margins to smaller numbers. Compared to the normal settings, you could use up to 14% less paper!
  • When you are printing, reduce font size to 10 point to decrease the amount of paper required.


Post in-house reminders about efficient paper use near the copy machine and/or each workstation

  • Use both sides of the sheet of paper, whether for copying or printing
  • Print only the pages you need by using the "Print Selection" function
  • Print documents 2-UP or 4-UP per page for archival purposes and where possible. Customized software can increase the document-per-page capabilities of your printer
  • Reduce margins
  • Use the print preview function before printing any word or excel document to avoid copy-mistakes
  • Use a small font size to reduce the number of pages printed
  • Use efficient fonts like Times New Roman or Arial. These fonts use significantly less space.


Use your fax effectively

  • Send a fax or Word document without printing first! Simply use the menus in Word: choose "File", then "Send to", then "Fax Recipient", and then follow the instructions. This allows faxes to be sent from computers without the need to print first. It also allows faxes to be received in an e-mail rather than printed copy format. Help on this should be available from your IT department
  • When sending a paper fax, eliminate cover sheets and use fax stick-on labels instead
  • Program your fax to eliminate confirmation sheets


Practice image reduction

The ability to reduce or enlarge images is common on copiers. Image reduction is also possible with printing.

  • For example, when copying a book, one can often get two original pages on to one side of the copied sheet. Because reduction works in two dimensions, you only need to reduce by 30% (to 70%) to cut in half the area of an image.
  • While reproducing entire standard pages requires a 35% reduction (to 65%), books often have smaller than standard pages and most documents have larger than necessary margins, so the reduction can usually be less than this.


Practice preventive copier maintenance

  • Keep copiers and printers in good repair and make it your company’s policy to only buy copiers and printers that make reliable double-sided copies
  • Let your copier maintenance person know when a copier is performing poorly (toner is low, jams frequently, etc.). Regular copier maintenance is important, especially if the toner is low. Many times copiers are used until all the toner is gone and that wears down machines. A copier that works well is less likely to jam and this helps save paper!

Thinner paper & unwanted mail


Thickness of paper

  • The thickness of paper we use makes a big difference both in terms of cost as well as the amount of paper used. You can find the reference to the thickness of paper on the package, mostly ranging from 60gsm or g/m2 (grams per square metre) to 100gsm


Reduce unwanted mail to your office

  • Contact mail senders to take your company's name off their mailing lists, or mark unwanted first class mail "Refused, Return to Sender."

Reuse paper


Put adequate paper collection systems in place

  • Provide clearly labelled recycling bins near copiers, shipping and receiving areas, and in employee eating areas to collect white paper, mixed paper, newspaper, magazines, cardboard as well as non-paper products (glass, aluminum, plastic, etc)
  • Provide desktop recycling containers for employees
  • Advise cleaning staff on where to place collected paper
  • Estimate how much waste paper your office produces and arrange to have it picked up by your waste hauler or a recycler
  • If your office is small, consider combining your recyclables with other small offices nearby


Encourage staff to reuse papers

  • Use the blank sides of unneeded single-sided copies for printing drafts
  • Use outdated letterhead for in-house memos
  • Designate a printer for draft printing, and use only used paper in its paper tray


Don't buy paper that is a contaminant in recycling

  • Don’t buy paper that have the following contaminants: thermal fax paper, glossy/plastic coatings, plastic windows, bright colours including goldenrod, laser printer inks and adhesive products

Please think about the environment before you 'click' the print button!

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