Cartridges, Recycleing and Multiple Pages Per Sheet

By M. David Stone  |  Posted 2008-10-27 Print this article Print

Printing N-Up (Multiple pages per sheet of paper)?

Although not as universally useful as duplexing, the ability to print 2, 4, or more document pages on a single sheet of paper is a time honored way to save paper for draft output.  The feature is particularly helpful for users looking to proof the layout of pages.  Most printer drivers include this feature.  Make sure your users know about it.

Recycled Paper

The argument for using recycled paper is obvious.  What may not be obvious is that not all printers can work reliably with it.  If you want to take advantage of recycled paper in your company, make sure it's an acceptable media type for any printer you're considering.

Ink Saver Mode

One of the lesser known secrets about the ink-saver options in drivers is that for printers that offer these modes, most output looks just as good whether the ink-saver mode is on or off.  In any case, when you're evaluating a printer, it's certainly worth looking for an ink-saver option and testing it to see if you can save ink without sacrificing quality.

Ground versus Grown

Toner can either be physically ground from larger chunks of material or chemically grown.  The chemically grown variety is more energy efficient to produce -- by 25 to 35 percent according to Xerox.  That's a little extra green bonus for printers that use grown toner.  

Cartridge Capacities

Regardless of page yield, ink cartridges for any given printer are the same size, with the same amount of material.  Give extra points to printers with higher capacity cartridges.  Keep in mind too that if you have a printer with a choice of cartridges, using the high capacity cartridge will generate less waste for a landfill (and incidentally cost less per page, so it will also save money).

Recycling and Cartridges

If you count up the number of ink or toner cartridges you use over the lifetime of a printer, you may be appalled both by the sheer number of cartridges, and by how large a volume they would use up in a landfill.  When evaluating a printer, ask about the percentage of recycled material in the cartridge, as well the percentage of recyclable materials (or, even better, reusable parts for remanufacturing the cartridges).  You'll also want to make sure the manufacturer has a cartridge recycling program in place.

One other thing: if you compare percentages of recyclable materials between cartridges from different printers, be sure the comparisons are indeed comparable; the percentage by volume may be very different than the percentage by weight.

Recycling and Printers

Some of the recycling questions for cartridges apply to the printer itself as well.  When you're evaluating a printer, ask if the printer itself contains any recycled materials, and, if so, what percentage.  Similarly, you should ask what percentage of the printer is made of recyclable materials (or reusable parts), whether the manufacturer has a recycling program, and whether there is any out of pocket cost to your company for recycling.


M. David Stone is an award-winning freelance writer and computer industry consultant with special areas of expertise in imaging technologies (including printers, monitors, large-screen displays, projectors, scanners, and digital cameras), storage (both magnetic and optical), and word processing. His 25 years of experience in writing about science and technology includes a nearly 20-year concentration on PC hardware and software. He also has a proven track record of making technical issues easy for non-technical readers to understand, while holding the interest of more knowledgeable readers. Writing credits include eight computer-related books, major contributions to four others, and more than 2,000 articles in national and worldwide computer and general interest publications. His two most recent books are The Underground Guide to Color Printers (Addison-Wesley, 1996) and Troubleshooting Your PC, (Microsoft Press, 2000, with co-author Alfred Poor).

Much of David's current writing is for PC Magazine, where he has been a frequent contributor since 1983 and a contributing editor since 1987. His work includes feature articles, special projects, reviews, and both hardware and software solutions for PC Magazine's Solutions columns. He also contributes to other magazines, including Wired. As Computers Editor at Science Digest from 1984 until the magazine stopped publication, he wrote both a monthly column and additional articles. His newspaper column on computers appeared in the Newark Star Ledger from 1995 through 1997.

Non-computer-related work includes the Project Data Book for NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (written for GE's Astro-Space Division), and magazine articles and AV productions on subjects ranging from cosmology to ape language experiments. David also develops and writes testing scripts for leading computer magazines, including PC Magazine's PC Labs. His scripts have covered a wide range of subjects, including computers, scanners, printers, modems, word processors, fax modems, and communications software. He lives just outside of New York City, and considers himself a New Yorker at heart.


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