7 tips to reduce printing and paper waste in the workplace

Excessive printing and paper consumption are wasteful enough, but when you factor in all of the related processes and other variables, the challenge is much larger than you think. In this article, we take a look at seven ways you and your employees can reduce printing and paper use, and at the same time, reap a number of significant business benefits.


When you think about inefficiencies and waste (often in the context of climate change), the “usual suspects” tend to come to mind – transportation, power production, industrial operations and more.

But there’s one other area that may surprise you – the overall use of paper as well as any related products and processes, such as ink cartridges, energy consumption and more. For example, did you know that the act of producing a single ink cartridge emits eight kilograms of carbon dioxide?

A closer look at the numbers shows how fast they add up. For example, if one factory produces 200,000 printer cartridges per month, it will emit the equivalent carbon dioxide levels as 500 homes. Then, when you add in the additional impact of deforestation (leading to further emissions) and the production of the paper that will eventually be used for printing, it’s easy to see why reducing printing is good for the environment.

Actions to reduce paper waste

At the same time, reducing printing and overall paper consumption is a good business decision, and can help you reduce costs, increase productivity and even increase security.

Your employees will embrace this effort, too. Like consumers, your employees have the power to positively impact the environment. And you can provide the tools to help them. Consider these seven ways your team can reduce paper waste in the office and help curb the long-term effects of carbon dioxide emissions.

  1. Only print when necessary. Sounds obvious, right? But there are countless examples of employees continuing to print documents when it is likely unnecessary: for manual filing, when copies already exist, for editing offline, or for signature. The last is one you can help address by providing employees with electronic signature capabilities with PDF tools.
  2. Print two-sided documents. Likely as simple as changing the settings in your office printers, this change can reduce paper waste by large amounts.
  3. Go digital. Documents stored electronically take up little to no space and offer more security options than a locked file cabinet. Software like Power PDF can be used to encrypt sensitive documents and add passwords.
  4. Push for paperless processes. To ensure that all your document processes are paperless, you request that suppliers send invoices in digital form via email rather than physical copies.
  5. Proofread! If you do have to print, make sure that you thoroughly check the document for typos and other errors to avoid having to print again.
  6. Fit into a single page. This can save considerable amounts of paper waste. You can reduce the font size, shrink the margins, and reduce the space taken up by the footer and header. Be sure to check the print preview before printing to ensure the integrity of the content.
  7. Recycle. Obvious? Perhaps, but too many workplaces still lack an aggressive strategy for recycling. Work with your facilities manager to evaluate every opportunity to recycle.


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