Ongoing Printing Conservation Program Saves Money, Shrinks Footprint

Larry Youngman, senior service delivery manager in IT Customer ComputingThis post was written by Larry R. Youngman, senior service delivery manager in IT Customer Computing.

In the course of my work providing IT services, I was struck by the volume of print that the company produces each month (in the domestic United States). As our workforce transitions toward more mobile computing, I realized that we had an opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint and electricity use through paper and toner reductions. Further research also revealed that the printers we had in place were only utilized 20 percent of the time.

To start conserving on printing, we in the IT department implemented default standards of duplex (two-sided) and black-and-white, which lowered our paper usage and toner costs. Then we increased the visibility of color print volumes and associated cost trends for each floor or work area, by publishing the information internally. In conjunction with the Eco Office and IT, Senior Management eliminated a significant number of personal printers due to their excessive toner and electrical costs. To improve printer utilization we are phasing in a standard of two printers per floor as opposed to printers assigned to each department, which will result in an elimination of approximately 30 percent of our printer fleet and associated costs.

Over the last two years we have reduced our color print volume by over 550,000 pages a year, and our annual black-and-white print volume has been reduced by over 1.1 million pages. Although it may not be high-profile, this change has a real impact on our bottom line and sustainability efforts. These savings in paper and toner alone equate to over $110,000 per year, and represent over eight percent of the company’s total paper consumption.

Ensuring that the default standard is equally applied to all printers can be very challenging, as these standards are set within the centralized print server and can be impacted by network connectivity or other circumstances. With fewer printers available, ensuring that the remaining ones are up and available is that much more important. We have been successful in limiting printer service calls to approximately five percent of our fleet each month.

In addition to recognizing the importance of partnering with key groups such as the Eco Office, I’ve learned that a large initiative like this takes time and constant effort to achieve our long-term objectives. Implementing these changes requires a cultural shift, involving consistent education about the costs of operation and how our previous ways of utilizing printers had a high impact on our carbon footprint and operating costs.

Looking forward, we plan to continue printer reductions in field locations as well as in our Oakland headquarters. We will also expand our education programs, with an emphasis on reducing the need to print as well as how to leverage digital alternatives.

Larry Youngman has been with Clorox for about three years and is based in Pleasanton, Calif. He lives in the Sierra foothills and enjoys hiking in the summer, snowshoeing in the winter and wine tasting year-round!