Paper-wasting, ink-slurping, energy-sapping machines; that's how many businesses view the printing appliances their companies cannot operate without. However, companies like HP and Canon are offering new incentives and appliances that reduce energy costs and encourage recycling. By combining smart usage practices with new technology, small to medium-size businesses can meet their printing needs and spare a few trees in the process.
In fact, printing is one area where vendors are particularly interested in attracting your business with environmentally friendly and cost-effective initiatives. At HP's Americas Partner Conference in late February, the company announced HP Green Expressway, a set of "green" resources that provide information specific to HP's energy-efficiency programs, the latest environmental news, industry research and more.
In March of this year, Xerox is introduced a Sustainability Calculator, which representatives in the company's Office Services unit use to help companies gauge the environmental impact of their printers and copiers. The calculator estimates the amount of energy and "consumables" like toners and paper used in a company's average monthly printing volume. In November, Xerox began preparing for the production of Ultra Low-Melt EA Toner, a product company representatives say can cut overall power consumption of digital printing devices by as much as 15 to 30 percent.
Ricoh Americas Corp., based in West Caldwell, N.J., has also turned to the Web and brochures to educate companies about the environmental features on their products. Canon USA has also followed suit-the company uses airshell packaging material for toner cartridges and utilizes air cushioning that reduces product package sizes for improving shipping efficiency.
All of Canon's Pixma line printers are 100 percent energy compliant and employ energy-efficient features like sleep mode, auto power on/off and Quick Start reduce wasted energy. In addition, additional technologies are in the works or already integrated, like SURF (Surface Rapid Fixing) technology that makes an instant warm-up time possible. This results in a 75 percent reduction in energy consumption compared to conventional roller-fixing systems.
Each company has found that ease-of-use is paramount in the business owner's mind when it comes to energy-saving features. "You've got to make these things easy," says Dave Lobato, environmental program manager for the laser business at HP. Simple things like postage-paid return boxes for spent cartridges and easily readable, sub-identity tagging so that businesses know a particular product is greener than other products, he said, can make a big difference.
In 2007, Lobato said, the company recycled almost 250 million pounds of hardware and HP print cartridges, a 50 percent increase over the previous year. "We're on track to reach 2 billion pounds by 2010," Lobato said. A closed-loop recycling system that enables the use of post-consumer recycled plastics in the production of new HP inkjet print cartridges is another way the company hopes to boost those figures. "The key issue for boosting it is getting those components back--if you throw it away, you break that closed loop."
Not only do companies like HP want your print cartridges back, they want your opinions as well. Whether it's printers, servers, light bulbs or laptops, vendors want to know what green initiatives you are looking for. Mindy LeCheminant, HP's Green Expressway project manager, says the overall goal of the project is to help provide businesses with additional opportunities while helping them purchase and implement environmentally sound technology solutions. "We're putting together an entire green campaign," she said. "So anytime we can get better information to our customers, that's better for us."