Print in green
Cutting the amount of paper floating around an office can make a difference
WHILE THE MAJORITY of people think of IT as restricted to computers they tend to forget the office automation market is also covered by the term. While 10 years ago there was a clear split between the office automation vendors and IT vendors, currently there’s no clear split with players on both sides of the fence.
Holger Groenert, ITEC’s manager for product marketing, says while most companies will espouse an environmentally conscious line – at least verbally – that doesn’t always translate into action. “Large companies that trade internationally tend to have policies in place, motivated by international regulations. But small and medium businesses don’t have that imperative,” he says.
Groenert says there are a number of things companies are doing wrong when implementing office automation. The first is the use of paper. All office automation systems use paper in some form or another and people often don’t think twice before printing documents. That’s because compa- nies traditionally don’t train staff to control paper output.
Groenert says because paper is manufactured from natural resources, any paper saved has a beneficial effect, not just because trees are preserved but also because of a reduction in the harmful chemicals used in the paper manufacturing process. “We’ve also noticed that few companies have a recycling bin for documents being discarded. Just taking that small step can make a big difference in pushing an environmentally
aware strategy within an organisation.”
Another problem is the proliferation of small desktop printers. “All too often people feel they need their own personal printer instead of investing or using the larger, more efficient departmental printer,” says Groenert. “Small printers use more electricity, cost more to maintain and more per print than a large departmental printer, making that not just an environmental decision but also an economic one.”
He adds anecdotal evidence shows documents printed on a desktop printer are far less likely to be recycled than those printed on a larger, shared machine.
Groenert says arguments against upper management sharing machines are typically founded in the convenience of having fast access to a personal printer rather than the official line about confidentiality. Other issues must also be considered when examining office automation technology, including that they generate large amounts of heat – therefore electricity – in the printing, scanning and printing processes. They’re also typically left on permanently, even when the office is closed.
He adds companies must ask questions about what happens to obsolete equipment once removed from duty. Because there’s a large amount of plastics in the machines, care must be taken to ensure the maximum amount of materials is recycled.
While the “paperless office” has been promised for decades, the chance of that hap- pening seems as slim as it was 20 years ago. What companies can do is use the advances in office automation to cut the amount of paper floating around the company and concomitantly do their bit to cut man’s wasteful impact on the planet.
Office automation is part of it. Holger Groenert