Print in green

Cut­ting the amount of pa­per float­ing around an of­fice can make a dif­fer­ence

Finweek English Edition - - Focus On -

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

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