Saving Green by Printing Green

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2008-03-03 Print this article Print

There is a lot more to printing green than a sleep mode and an Energy Star label.

Mention Green IT and the conversation turns bashfully to the lowly network printer. After all, printers are a big consumer of resources, such as electricity, toner/ink and paper - all of which cost money and leave users with a less than "green" feeling! Sure, plenty of printers offer a sleep mode or sport an energy star label, but there is a lot more to being green than just that.

Today, printer vendors are trying to redefine what it means to be green and most are applying technology to reduce waste and just be more environmentally friendly.

There are several elements the corporate technology buyer needs to look at to make sure everything is coming up green. For example, there is the whole issue of supplies - are the supplies for the printer in question as "green" as possible? One consumable to look at is toner.

Green Toner

Many vendors have re-engineered their toner to be more environmentally friendly. For example, Konica Minolta offers its polymerized toner, compared to conventional toner, polymerized toner offers improved image quality and reduced production costs, while being environmentally friendly due to its energy savings and emission-reducing effects.

Okidata takes a different approach; the company's "Wasteless Toner System" was designed to eliminate wasted toner. In other words, excess toner that would normally be stored in a waste bottle is recycled and reused in the printer, reducing waste and boosting efficiency. Kyrocera Mita follows a different design path with their "Ecosys" technology, which boasts environmental friendliness by offering a "cartridge-free" printing system. Conventional printers use an imaging cartridge that integrates a photoreceptor drum, developer and toner into a single, disposable unit. When the toner is depleted, the entire cartridge is disposed of and replaced with a new unit. In contrast, ECOSYS printers use a durable imaging system based on an amorphous silicon print drum (a-Si), a combination of ceramic and metal. The print drum is guaranteed for up to 500,000 pages.  Kyocera Mita's toner features ceramic particles which polish and recondition the drum during normal printing, which eliminates the need for replacement of the drum and other cartridge components.

Leading printer vendor Hewlett-Packard seems to be putting all its eggs into the recycling basket. The company has ramped up its cartridge recycling program and now uses a new engineering process that maximizes the amount of post-consumer recycled plastics when manufacturing new cartridges.

Lexmark follows a similar approach, relying on recycling to make the biggest impact for the "greening" of consumables for its various printers.

Tree-Hugging Paper

Another consumable to consider is paper. While paper is considered a universal consumable that can be used across a wide spectrum of printers, there are some manufacturers who are touting the green-ness of their paper. For example, Xerox is offering an eco-friendly paper that cuts in half the amount of trees needed to manufacture the paper, resulting in higher yields and a reduction in the water and chemicals needed for production. The paper is also supposed to cost less for the consumer. Innovations like that make paper a real consideration for those looking to green up their printing.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at

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