Saving Green by Printing Green

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

Duplexing, MFPs and Buying Green}

For those looking for a "green" printer, consumables are only part of the equation - a major part, but not the end-all, be-all of green-ness! Buyers will have to dive a little deeper into the manufacturing process to truly embrace green technology. Part of the green manufacturing initiative can be attributed to RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) compliance, a directive that restricts the use of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium and two types of polybromic fire retardants (PBB & PBDE). Konica Minolta embraces RoHS and other environmental standards as part of its manufacturing process. Vendors such as Lexmark, HP and Okidata, which are selling their products into European markets, are adhering to RoHS rules or at the very least, pursuing exemptions for certain technologies that cannot meet the stringent requirements of RoHS.

For "green-minded" buyers, it all comes down to looking at how a manufacturer constructs its products to determine how environmentally friendly they are. Although manufacturers are doing their part to bring green technology to the forefront, the biggest impact on how green a product can be is how it is used.

That translates to the selection, deployment and overall use of a product. For instance, if a printer is deployed and is set up so it goes into sleep mode after a minute of inactivity, but due to usage - the printer is waking up out of sleep mode to process jobs several times an hour, the printer may use more energy and incur more wear due to the multiple sleep/wake cycles experienced in that hour. Of course, this is a basic example, but understanding a product's usage is key to how green it can be.

Proper selection of a product's features can also impact the green efficiency of a printer.

Two-Sided Print and MFPs

One of the most basic options that can make a difference is a duplexer. If it is feasible for a business to print on both sides of a page, then the savings can add up quickly; paper use is reduced by half. All of the major manufacturers offer a duplexer option for most of their models and it is usually a worthwhile investment.

For small- and medium-size businesses, selecting a multifunction device can make a big difference. By implementing a Multi Function Printer that prints, scans, copies and faxes, what was once accomplished by four separate machines can now be done by one, which reduces electrical costs, reduces supplies needed and maximizes the features used. Add to that the ability to scan and capture documents electronically and other benefits, such as storage space for paper files, electronic distribution of documents and so-on, become readily apparent.

Some printers also offer specialized features that can help reduce operating costs, reduce the number of pages printed and increase efficiencies. For example, Konica Minolta's higher-end Magicolor 8650DN offers the ability to store print jobs on a local hard drive, which allows a user to store a print job and then have it print when they are physically at the printer. That prevents printed copies from being mistakenly distributed to or picked up by other users. When printer output disappears, it usually results in the user printing again. Here, the path to green-ness is paved by reducing reprints.

Reducing paper usage is a common theme for those who are environmentally conscious; here, another technology offered by many of the printer manufacturers can offer significant paper savings. N-up printing technology can be used to print multiple pages on a single sheet of paper. Many printer manufacturers include N-up capabilities in their printer drivers. Here a user can select to print two (usually four) or more pages on a single sheet of paper. That proves to be an ideal way to reduce paper usage for proofs, edits or infrequently used technical documents. When combined with duplexing, users can expect to reduce paper usage by eight times.

Buying Green

Buying printers that are environmentally friendly and still cost effective can be a challenge for corporate IT departments. But the process can be simplified by focusing on the benefits offered by today's technology and can be broken down into some simple rules that will maximize the benefits offered:

  • Combine as many functions as possible into a single device (MFP products)
  • Select printers that are engineered green from the start (RoHS compliance)
  • Select printers that use environmentally friendly supplies (Soy Inks, Efficient Toners)
  • Use technologies that reduce waste (Long life drums and fusers)
  • Use vendors that embrace recycling programs (refillable cartridges or exchange programs)
  • Use printers that reduce paper needs (Duplexing, N-Up)
  • Use Energy Star technologies (Sleep or power down modes)
While no one manufacturer incorporates every single green technology, some are coming close to maximizing what it is to be green, and corporate buyers can narrow down what products best fit their internal green initiatives, reduce costs and still meet printing needs by evaluating what is on the market. There is plenty to choose from, but ultimately the choice will be yours!

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). FrankÔÇÖs 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 TechnologyÔÇÖs 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 CenterÔÇÖs review content into both CRNÔÇÖs print and web properties. He also contributed to NetseminarÔÇÖs, hosted sessions at CMPÔÇÖs 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 CenterÔÇÖs contributions to CMPÔÇÖs Channel Web online presence and CMPÔÇÖs latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMPÔÇÖs 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 GroupÔÇÖs publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel GroupÔÇÖs 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 EnterpriseÔÇÖs 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 presidentÔÇÖs 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 NovellÔÇÖs CNE, MicrosoftÔÇÖs MCP.Frank can be reached at

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