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Brother’s five ways to make business printing more sustainable


Sustainability is no longer a business aspiration. Studies have made the case that sustainability should be now considered an essential competitive priority, alongside quality, cost, reliability, timeliness, flexibility and innovation.

As well as the aforementioned studies, 85% of consumers worldwide now say they’re more likely to buy from a company with a reputation for sustainability. Those that don’t scrutinise every area of their business for environmental improvements risk being left behind by customers and partners who see sustainability as a crucial part of doing business.

Many organisations are now facing up the fact that something as fundamental as their company’s print processes can have a big impact on their carbon footprint. The good news is that through responsible procurement processes, businesses are able to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability initiatives, including eco-friendly packaging, or printing.

How can I make my business printing more sustainable?

Here are five ways Brother encourage you to make your business printing more sustainable.

1. Check your supply chain

Experience tells us that businesses typically only evaluate a printer’s sustainability during and at the end of its operational life. When you consider that 90% of a company’s impact on the environment comes from its supply chain, the key to making a real difference is to consider the environmental impacts at every stage of its lifecycle. This includes product development, raw materials and manufacturing. Right through to packaging, warehousing, transportation and disposal.

Choosing sustainable suppliers as part of an ethical supply chain that treats people and the environment responsibly is a key component of any environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy. An ethical supply chain ensures freedom of association for workers, safe working conditions, no use of child labour and fair pay. It also shows that you take a stand against corruption.

Responsible supply-chain partners also help protect your reputation against damage by association with businesses who don’t adhere to the same high standards of corporate behaviour.

Your business can boost its eco-friendly credentials by working with suppliers that adhere to sustainable development goals, and also have proof of good ESG practices.

2. Check your supplier’s recycling process and beyond

To boost your green credentials even further, Brother advise choosing a print partner that makes it as easy as possible to recycle your used consumables. For example, do they give you a freepost label to return used consumables? Do they ensure that they’re all recycled in line with current regulations? And if their recycling process is fully automated for maximum efficiency, that’s a bonus too.

But further than this, does sustainability mean to your print partner what it means to you? Finding a partner who commits to holistic sustainability initiatives in a way that supports your own ethos can give your sustainability fundamentals a real boost. Examples to look out for are suppliers who are meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Alternatively, look for those who are investing in long-term sustainability projects. Such as protecting indigenous forest communities from the threat of deforestation, as well as earning environmental accreditations, like Zero Waste to Landfill.

3. Check your print contract

For maximum eco-friendly printing, you should consider a managed print service (MPS). Choosing an MPS contract gives you greater visibility and control of your printer use. It can also optimise your printing fleet so it runs at its most efficient, in line with your evolving business needs.

Not only can an MPS monitor and improve your consumption of power, paper and toner, it’s worth asking if it’s possible that your devices be returned to the manufacturer at the end of their working life to be disposed of in accordance with the EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE).

One way to extend the life of your printers and maximise sustainability is to fix faults and upgrade using modular repairs. This allows you to replace individual components and add updates without replacing an entire machine. An MPS should typically provide modular repairs as part of the package.

4. Check your paper

Even the paper you use can have a positive impact on your sustainability. Every year, four billion trees are cut down for the production of paper. Figures suggest that paper accounts for 14% of global deforestation. That’s the destruction of around 4.1 million hectares every year – an area the size of the Netherlands.

An easy way of reducing your business’ environmental impact is simply to switch to recycled paper. Not only does recycling 1 tonne of paper save 17 trees, recycled paper generates up to 50% fewer carbon dioxide emissions than paper produced from virgin fibres.

Other ways of reducing your paper consumption include setting your printer to print duplex/double-sided, or by printing multiple pages on a single page. And you could always add a message to your company email signature reminding staff to only print when absolutely necessary.

5. Check your printer features

In most offices, you can guarantee a pile of discarded printouts by each printer. Whether the job was sent to the wrong place or someone forgot to collect their documents, needless print jobs create waste – of time, toner, paper and power.

Choosing printers that offer user-authenticated ‘pull printing’ will help resolve this costly problem. With this feature, all print jobs are posted to a single queue and users can log in securely to any printer on the network., effectively ‘pulling’ the job to their location. This not only reduces the environmental impact of wasted print, it prevents the overloading of individual machines. This creates frustrating queues and excessive waiting time for other users. Files that aren’t collected after a set time are then automatically removed from the printer’s memory.

In addition, consider choosing printers with an eco-mode that let you reduce energy consumption without compromising on print quality. This could include a sleep mode that dims the screen to conserve power if a machine is left unused for any length of time.

Sustainable printing for business

Ultimately, reducing the environmental impact of your business can lead to big cost savings and can have a hugely positive impact on reputation, tender wins and partnerships. So, simply by reducing waste, optimising the consumption of power, paper and toner and increasing the efficiency of your devices, you can quickly see returns.

Find out how Brother can help make your organisation more sustainable with their transformative tech, or discover how they’re meeting their own sustainability challenges here.