Printer manufacturer Lexmark does not deny and in fact points out that printing does contribute to environmental damage and increases companies’ carbon footprints.
And to the firm’s credit, it has revealed research and released a 10-step guide on how its customers and users can make their carbon footprints smaller just by printing smarter.
The findings in Lexmark’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study show that:
--Contrary to what most customers believe, the pages generated from everyday usage of both laser and inkjet printers are a significant contributor to the devices' carbon footprints. In fact, the primary step users can take to reduce their carbon footprint is reducing their overall paper usage in printing.
--Testing on a Lexmark laser printer multifunction product revealed paper use accounts for up to 80 percent of its global warming impact, while energy and cartridge use account for only 8 and 6 percent, respectively. The manufacturing phase of the printer life cycle has less of an impact on global warming with plastics, metals and electronics contributing only 7 percent. Distribution has little impact on global warming at 0.4 percent while the end-of-life phase reduces impact on global warming by 1.4 percent.
--The LCA of a small office/home office Lexmark inkjet all-in-one found the printer use phase has the largest impact on global warming at 68 percent, while manufacturing comes in at 34 percent, followed by distribution at 4 percent. In the use phase, paper impact was 47 percent, cartridge impact was 11 percent and energy impact was 10 percent. Recycling and employing proper end-of-life activities decrease global warming's potential by 6 percent.
Here are 10 steps printer users can follow to reduce their carbon footprint:
1. Use two-sided printing to save paper
2. Use software like the Lexmark Toolbar to print only the Web pages you need
3. Share printers in the home or office through wireless networking technology
4. Look for the longest available printer warranty to extend its life cycle
5. Improve printer efficiency by switching the device off after use
6. Print in draft mode to reduce the amount of ink used
7. Use Lexmark high-yield cartridges for a higher yield of ink or toner, resulting in fewer cartridges to manufacture and recycle
8. Take advantage of Lexmark's free cartridge recycling service
9. Recycle your printed pages and use paper with recycled content
10. Return the printer to a dedicated collection point
“Finding ways to help our customers print in the most efficient manner possible, as well as understanding the impacts printers can have on the environment are fundamental to our business at Lexmark,” says Tonya Jackson, director, sustainable technology and operations, Lexmark, in a release. “We feel it is our responsibility to educate our customers on eco-friendly printing practices, and are sharing this Life Cycle Assessment study to help create awareness on the topic and offer real and tangible steps that users can employ to help to lessen their impact on the environment.”