We are all going green, or so we like to think. However, a July report sponsored by Kyocera has found that office printing volumes are continuing to rise across UK businesses, despite policies to reduce cost and waste.
Tracey Rawling Church, director of brand and reputation at Kyocera, said 77 per cent of the 1,000 office workers and 200 IT managers surveyed said their print volumes had increased or stayed static in the past 12 months. Respondents were from firms based in the UK with 500 or more staff.
“The average office worker prints 10,000 sheets of paper per year, of which 6,800 are wasted,” said Rawling Church. “People just keep printing things out because, I think, it is the way they have always done it. They don’t stop to think; they just do what they have always done.”
This is despite the continual pressure to facilitate on cost reduction across
all businesses and industries, coupled with the need – and oft-stated desire
of individuals themselves – to behave in a more environmentally sus-tainable manner.
Rawling Church notes that the issue of paper addiction, and resultant waste, is not just about excess use of paper and cutting down trees, but the overall resource use that occurs as a result of printing, ranging from higher energy bills, to increased and potentially unnecessary use of the toxic chemicals used in both paper manufacturing and recycling.
“We try to focus on explaining the issues to people and getting them to change their own behaviour,” she said, adding that the survey, conducted for Kyocera by Loudhouse, suggested that education alone does not seem to be working very well.
Print on collection
“But there are lots of technological solutions,” said Rawling Church . “Some have security benefits now, and some of the most elegant solutions incorporate things like print-and-follow technology, so if you never turn up at the printer to collect your printout, it never gets printed.”
Such offerings take the responsibility of changing behaviour away from the individuals themselves and put it back in the hands of the IT department, and therefore the customer’s business. They could be part of an overall managed print service (MPS) or offered in a modular way, bundled with a hardware sale perhaps, with the customer retaining traditional ownership of its printer fleet. The channel played a key role here, Rawling Church noted, and would profit from stepping in.
Alex Cook, sales director at document management-focused VAR Copylogic, confirmed that it was difficult to get customers to actually change their employees’ behaviour when it comes to printing – even though most, if not all, organisations were well aware that massive volumes were being printed needlessly, resulting in unnecessary cost.
Therefore, increasingly, organisations are ready to consider IT-based solutions to the problem.
“We are getting a growing number of enquiries from IT managers who are the piggy in the middle of all this. They have senior management who are interested in reducing this waste, but at the bottom end they have individuals who don’t really want to have control taken from them,” said Cook.
People in general resent change, as well as anything they perceive as reducing their autonomy and choice. But, according to Cook, the answer is in the approach and that is where education does finally come into its own within the sale.
“We go to see each department and explain how and why they need to do it. We show them the impact on the environment, and the costs,” he Cook. “A lot of people have old peripherals on their desk that they love. If you take them away, they are not happy. But if you give them something new, with the new functionality, they want it.”
Copylogic found that visiting the customer a month or so later often showed staff had adapted to the changes – though they had dragged their heels to begin with.
Cook said in between options can allow individuals to retain control, such as asking users if, for example, they really wanted to print ten copies of a document before printing was authorised, or having the full cost of the proposed printout flash up on the monitor before printing.
“And the technology we deploy typically has a very short return on investment – an obvious advantage,” he added.
The Kyocera survey found that paper wastage was due to a number of factors, including failure to use duplex, forgotten printouts that are never picked up from the printer and unnecessary duplication.
Thirty-nine per cent of respondents admitted they could print less. Seventy per cent of IT managers said their organisation could operate a greener, more efficient print policy.
Forty per cent of respondents described themselves as “paper people”, printing simply because they preferred to read that way. Seventy-six per cent print personal documents at work - 28 per cent said they did so because printing in the office is “free”.
Seventy-eight per cent of firms had recycling facilities, but recycled paper still needs to be processed, and 55 per cent used “think green” posters and the like – but only 22 per cent had proximity-based printing.
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