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Going green is easier than you think

It's increasingly important to think twice before hitting the print button.
Read time 3min 50sec

There's a lot of talk about going green, or becoming environmentally aware in the office environment. The recent spate of blackouts, the rising cost of electricity and pending legislation are making us all rethink our approach to electricity consumption and the broader eco issues.

Here are some tips to help you to make a green contribution in the office domain.

Switch off

PCs, notebooks, printers and copiers are typically left on all day and night. But there's no need for this. All of these devices can quite happily be switched off overnight and switched on again the next morning. Their sleep mode can also be invoked for daytime use.

The better printers, copiers and multifunction devices (MFDs), in particular, come equipped with a "deep sleep" function that ensures they use the minimum of power while in hibernation mode, while restoring to full power quickly when needed.

The combination of buying the right devices and powering off can lead to significant savings. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates these simple acts can save up to R1 000 per PC in annual power costs.

Using the right printers, copiers and MFDs can save up to 60% of expected power consumption, per device. Add this over the course of a year in a medium to large organisation and you can see how the savings add up.

As an aside, always consider notebook computers rather than desktops: businesses save more than 60% of their electrical consumption relative to a desktop computer: 150W consumption as against 350W.

Print only when necessary

Many people print documents by default, whether it's those with a short shelf life, like e-mails, or those with greater longevity, such as strategic plans.

Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

Many people print documents by default, whether it's those with a short shelf life, like e-mails, or those with greater longevity, such as strategic plans.

The commonality is that the bulk probably never need to be printed, especially those that will never be referred to again.

So, here are three solutions: first, review very carefully what absolutely must be printed. Second, print on both sides of the page, and only buy a printer that can cope with duplex. Third, recycle paper - manufacturing office paper from recycled paper is far more eco-friendly than chopping down new trees to pulp for paper.

Also, look out for technology soon to arrive in SA that promises ink that disappears after 24 hours, leaving certain printed out pages to be reused. Along with this is paper that is less harmful to the environment when it is created, while at the same time producing a superior finish.

Finally, using the right toner can have a significant bearing on a company's overall carbon footprint. Emulsion aggregate toner costs far less to make than traditional toner; its particles are extremely tiny, leading to greater coverage and more pages covered per cartridge. Along with this is solid ink toner, which generates only one-tenth the landfill of other print cartridges.

Recycle equipment

All office equipment is full of material that, if simply dumped, creates toxic landfill. Yet this equipment is often of value to the original vendor, which will often take it off your hands.

Two factors arise here: the vendor should have a responsible disposal programme in place; and the vendor will often find the equipment useful for cannibalisation of parts. Either way, the equipment is more useful to the vendor than it is to the company.

One point: do ensure the company's security is not compromised when recycling computer equipment.

Alongside these steps are others outside the domain of this Industry Insight, such as virtualisation, from servers to storage to desktops; and the redesign of data centres to be more energy-efficient.

There is also the simple step of only working with vendors which are totally committed to the environment and have a track record in this regard.

Green regulations are being introduced around the world. As the energy issue reaches critical proportions around the world, including here in SA, and as energy costs soar (up a third, at least, in 2009), so it makes perfect sense to begin the move towards environmentally sound office automation.

And there's never a better time to start than now.

* Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

Rob Abraham

MD of Bytes Document Solutions

Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

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