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Create a more sustainable office: top tips on how to incorporate print into your sustainability strategy

If you think your small-to-medium sized business (SMB) can’t make a difference in promoting environmental sustainability, think again. Whether your workers are in the office, at home, or on the road, there is plenty you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and help protect our precious environment.

"Every little bit makes a big difference."

Debbie Gualtieri, Director of Product Safety and Sustainability at Xerox®

Creating a green strategy

Debbie says she often gets asked by SMBs about where to start in pursuing sustainability. She recommends that SMBs – and all businesses – start by creating a sustainability strategy and focus on “things that are within your control,” she advises. Besides common sense habits like drinking from re-usable coffee cups and turning off lights when leaving a room, improving practices in the use of office equipment and supplies your business uses are key. Here are some options to consider:

  • Encourage best practices, such as conserving electricity and using recycled paper. Replace ageing devices with new low energy printers and other office equipment.

  • Use products made from recycled material and second-life parts.

  • Return or recycle spent consumables and equipment, so materials can be re-used rather than landfilled. For example, the Xerox Green World Alliance recycling program provides a returns service for spent toner cartridges and supplies; customers returned over 4.3M units in 2022.

  • Educate employees on sustainability practices when printing, such as two-sided printing, smaller font sizes, smaller margins, and printing in draft mode when a top-quality copy is not needed.

Choosing the right printer is key

The right printer is essential to your sustainability strategy. Today’s printers have a growing number of features that reduce energy use, emissions, and waste, with recycling and reuse options.

Start by checking which printers have globally recognized third-party environmental certifications. Top ecolabels include ENERGY STAR®, Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT®), and Blue Angel – all of which include energy efficiency criteria that will help you meet your sustainability goals. While Xerox has a goal for all new printers to meet these ecolabels, as applicable, other vendors may not.

You should then review if the capabilities of particular printers and toner are geared for your company. Essential features include:

  • Two-sided printing

  • Preview mode to review document drafts before printing

  • Energy-saving sleep and standby modes

  • Automatic settings to reduce toner use and paper waste

  • Automatic setting to turnoff banner page printing

It is also worth considering whether the product is manufactured with recycled material and if it is designed for maximum efficiency. For example, Xerox has developed Emulsion Aggregation (EA) toner that uses less energy to manufacture and produces more prints per pound/kilogram compared to conventional toner*.

Government environmental agencies are a good source of product information. In the U.S., the EPA has resources to help identify greener products and services.

Learn more about the environmental attributes of printers and watch the Xerox ‘How Sustainability Works’ video to help build your sustainability strategy.

How committed is your vendor?

When developing your sustainability strategy, besides seeking out printers and toner supplies with environmental benefits, you should also consider the sustainability track record of the vendor. As with products, you can look for vendor certifications from ecolabel programs such as ENERGY STAR®, EPEAT® and Blue Angel. You can also look at a company’s reputation, history, and its commitment to sustainability and circularity. Read some of the Xerox sustainability initiatives and goals and how they can benefit your business.

Some factors to consider include:

  • Is the vendor committed to designing for sustainability?

  • Do they use recycled materials to manufacture them?

  • Do they provide returns, recycle, and reuse programs?

  • And do they offer proactive and remote equipment maintenance programs and services?

Overall, Xerox has a strong legacy of promoting sustainability, as well as a strongly designed sustainability program. It was awarded ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year in 2023 for the third consecutive year, earning the category of Sustained Excellence. Quocirca, a leading source for independent research, thought leadership, and actionable insight for the print industry, named Xerox a sustainability leader in its Sustainability Trends 2022 report.

Remote support saves carbon emissions and resources

The option to address repairs remotely also saves resources and reduces carbon emissions. For example, Xerox® CareAR® Instruct, is an application that provides self-support services for users to complete routine maintenance and troubleshooting tasks.

"Regularly maintaining your equipment can extend its life and avoid using resources for repair calls."

Debbie Gualtieri, Director of Product Safety and Sustainability at Xerox®

Also, check what print management tools vendors provide and how they will help you reach your sustainability goals. With the right solutions, small to medium sized-businesses (SMBs) can identify individual print practices that can be improved through less use of energy, toner, and paper.

Choosing a vendor that designs for sustainability and provides printers with a lower environmental footprint are important steps in helping your company support a more sustainable world. But it is also essential to create a sustainability strategy that makes the most of those choices and engage employees in an effort you can all be proud of, Debbie points out. And, as an added bonus, the efficiencies you achieve can yield significant cost savings.

Learn more about the environmental benefits of Xerox’s printers and watch the Xerox ‘How Sustainability Works’ video to help build your sustainability strategy.

* Available for use with selected printers, check xerox.com for details

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