Five tips for greener printing

More and more of our communication these days is electronic, but there are times when you just can't avoid printing out hard copy. But that needn't be bad news - by following a few simple tips, you can keep the environmental impact of your printing to the minimum.

1. Go duplex!

It may seem obvious, but if you print on both sides of the paper, you'll not only cut your bill for consumables, you'll be doing your bit for the planet too. Many basic inkjet models will require you to reinsert paper to print double-sided, but more sophisticated printers - particularly lasers aimed at business users - offer duplex printing as standard.

2. Use Draft mode

Think about who the document you're printing out is intended for. If it's just for internal circulation, and presentation isn't at a premium, why not use your printer's Draft mode? Because Draft mode lays down less ink or toner on the page, it'll help your cartridges go that little bit further - and it could cut printing times too.

3. Re-use, recycle!

We're all used to separating out our household waste for recycling, but how many of us are doing it at the office too? Sign up with a recycling scheme to make sure the paper thrown away from your business premises gets a new life, rather than going to landfill.

If you deal with confidential business or customer information, you can still send it for recycling - just make sure you protect its content by destroying documents using an office shredder that conforms to British Standard BS8470 before sending it off.

For documents that aren't confidential, you could even consider re-using scrap pages to print off internal documents such as email.

4. Choose a green printer supplier

Under the European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations, all hardware bought in the European Union since 1st July 2007 must be disposed of through certified recycling schemes.

The same isn't true of consumables such as cartridges - so make sure you buy from a supplier that operates a take-back and recycle scheme that ensures your office waste doesn't end up in a landfill.

5. Think about what you print, and how

Consider the way you design your documents to minimise the amount of ink or toner required to print them. When creating newsletters or sales materials, why not try a design that doesn't involve large solid areas of colour - and output your documents on the appropriate printer for the job.

Everyday documents such as emails are cheaper and quicker to print out using a black-and-white laser than a colour inkjet.

Designate a company policy on which types of document should be printed, and which should be sent electronically. Consider using printer management software that enables you to control who uses more expensive resources such as colour printing, and for what jobs.

This article was brought to you as part of THINQ's Business Printing Hub in association with HP.