Only two-thirds of companies provide paper recycling bins

New research(1) from Fujitsu Siemens Computers reveals that British offices are responsible for printing up to 120 billion pieces of paper every year, the equivalent of a paper mountain over 8,000 miles high. 

The average British office worker prints off 22 pages every working day.  However, the findings show that much of the printing done in offices is unnecessary, with over half of workers (53%) admitting to having printed the same document several times by mistake.  Two in five (43%) have picked up someone else’s print-out by mistake and, perhaps more concerning, 8% admit to printing emails before they’ve read them.

The findings paint a concerning picture of “carefree printing habits” in British offices where less than half of workers (47%) say they are careful about printing documents and avoid printing hard copies unless absolutely necessary.  A quarter (23%) of office workers admit to not giving much thought to printing off documents and a further 13% do not worry about how many documents they send to print as long as they recycle them. 

The blame for superfluous printing does not lie solely with the employees.  Two-thirds (64%) of office workers say their companies have no printing policy in place to advise them on what documents they should or should not print.  This is despite the fact that one in three (33%) workers said that they would change their printing behaviour if their company had a policy in place.  Only 16% of workers said that their company emails carry a footnote asking the recipient whether it’s necessary to print out the email.  This practice of including an environmentally aware message is much less common than legal disclaimers, which are included on 48% of company emails.

Fixing the office printer would appear to be a commonplace event for most office workers with three-quarters of employees saying that they have fixed a printer or copier themselves by retrieving a piece of paper that’s got jammed.  Sixty-two per cent of workers have changed the toner and 36% have asked a colleague to help un-jam or change a toner cartridge.  Forty-four percent have called helpdesk or IT and nearly one in four people (23%) admit to just walking away from an out-of-order printer in the hope that someone else will fix the problem.

Paul Parrish, managing director of Fujitsu Siemens Computers IT Product Services, commented:  “Sadly the paperless office remains a myth for many.  Office printing continues to be out of control with very few companies having any transparency on their print costs.  This is compounded by the fact that there is a general lack of guidelines for employees around printing practices and most people readily admit to not really thinking twice about hitting the “print” option on an email or document.

“Printing and copying are significant costs for any business and can represent as much as 5% of its total revenue(2).  Despite this outlay it would appear that the majority of companies do not seem to have any centralised function taking responsibility for their printer environment and as a result few businesses have an accurate picture of how much their printing is costing them.  Aside from the considerable environmental benefits that can be realised, better management of consumables, maintenance and support, and document management can reduce businesses’ spend on their printer estate by as much as 40% and significantly increase their efficiency.” 

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