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Choosing an Eco Friendly Printer

From the Printware Blog on Friday 15th March 2013 in Environment, Consumer Advice

Managing environmental impact has become an important consideration for most businesses and individuals. Protecting the planet by reducing waste and emissions doesn’t just make good sense ethically, it’s also good for business.

Careful management of your organisation’s resources will bring financial benefits, as well as less tangible, long-term rewards. Consumers and business partners alike will often choose to do business (or not) based on the other party’s ethical policy. For this reason alone, it’s worthwhile having a sound environmental policy in place.

Printing is a notoriously wasteful endeavour and one where it’s surprisingly easy to make a few small changes that have a dramatic effect on your environmental impact – and your bottom line. We’re going to be looking at several ways in which you can manage your resources more effectively to achieve these goals, in a series of articles over the next few weeks.

Before we look at changes to your print processes, though, we’ll start with the first and, arguably, most important decision you need to make if you want to print greener – choosing the right printer.

First things first, there’s no getting away from the fact that inkjet printers are far more environmentally friendly than lasers. The HP Officejet Pro K8600, for example, emits 12.39kg of CO2 per year, compared with 52.54kg for the Canon LBP5050 and 122.20kg for the Brother HL-2130.

The Epson WorkForce Pro range is aimed specifically at the business user and uses up to 80% less energy than a laser printer. Low running costs, high capacity ink cartridges and a high duty cycle make the WorkForce Pros a genuine alternative to laser printers but, if you need enterprise-level performance, there’s the HP Officejet Pro X range.

The Officejet Pro X will suit power users, with print speeds of up to 70 pages per minute and a range of advanced features, such as PostScript 3 emulation, colour touch screen and Apple AirPrint. The Officejet Pro X576dw multifunction printer (MFP) uses an average of 70 Watts of power whilst printing, compared with 465W for the LaserJet Pro M475 MFP and 605W for the Pro M570 MFP.

Printer

Typical Electricity Consumption

HP LaserJet Pro M475 MFP

1.88 kWh/ week*

HP LaserJet Pro M570 MFP

3.259 kWh/ week

HP Officejet Pro X576dw

0.6 kWh/ week

 

Clearly, there are significant benefits to choosing inkjet printers over lasers but there are plenty of applications for which a laser printer is the better option, particularly when high volumes or specialist finishing options are required. If it has to be laser, there are still plenty of ways you can ensure that the printer you choose doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket or the ozone layer.

The first thing to look for is a Blue Angel or Energy Star Certification. Both schemes are an indication of environmental friendliness but there are important differences. Energy Star is awarded to products which “reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy.” In other words, products that consume less power than comparable devices, with no resultant loss of performance.

Blue Angel, on the other hand, is more far reaching and considers the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle, from manufacture to disposal. It also considers the health aspects of a product so, for instance, would look at the release of toxic fumes from toner cartridges or printer components as they are subjected to high temperatures. The full list of Blue Angel certified printers is available here.

Blue Angel and Energy Star remove a great deal of the guesswork from buying an eco-friendly printer but not all eligible printers are created equal and there are other factors to consider.

Laser printers generate a great deal of waste and, whilst all the manufacturers have recycling programs for their consumables, choosing a printer which doesn’t create so much waste to start with is a better way to go. Even if every single consumable was 100% recycled every time (which we know they aren’t), the process still uses energy and resources.

Printer manufacturers are getting better at producing less wasteful machines and the two that particularly stand out in this regard are Kyocera and Xerox. Kyocera’s ECOSYS printers use long-life ceramic components for the imaging system which means that, unlike a conventional laser printer, only the toner needs replacing on a regular basis. The fuser and drum are designed to last for the life of the printer, reducing the amount of waste produced by up to 85%.

We’ve long been admirers of Xerox solid ink technology, which you can read more about in our article, Saving the World with Xerox Solid Ink. Although they’re not laser printers, solid ink printers tend to get lumped in with them, as they offer comparable specifications and performance. As the name suggests, solid ink printers employ small wax-like blocks instead of toner and these require far fewer consumables and far less packaging than a laser printer. In fact, a solid ink printer can generate up to 90% less waste over its lifetime than a laser printer.

If you’re in the market for a new, eco-friendly printer, this article should give you a good idea of what to look out for. As always, if there’s anything else you need to know, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 023 9262 3300 or e-mail us at sales@printware.co.uk

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be running several follow-up articles which will look at the various strategies you can employ to manage, and reduce, your environmental impact.

 

(*kilowatt hours per week; a kilowatt/ hour is the amount of energy used by a 1kW device in 1 hour, 1kW = 1000 joules of energy per second, therefore 1kWh = 3.6 million joules)

 

by Anthony Morgan

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