The UK is the worst country in Europe for sustainable printing, with companies wasting up to five percent of their turnover in printout, according to research by Ricoh
The UK’s adoption of sustainable document strategies is the worst in Europe, according to new research by printing specialist Ricoh, suggesting that British enterprises are unaware of the potential to use green practices to cut costs.
Ricoh’s Document Governance Index – which assigns a numerical value to environmental aspects of document governance such as recycling, setting targets, auditing and employee behaviours – placed the UK in seventh place out of seven, scoring only 38.5 out of a possible 100.
France came top the league with 43.5 percent, followed by Italy (42.7 percent) and Germany (41.7 percent). However, none of the countries surveyed scored more than 50 percent of the total, suggesting that there is still significant room for improvement in sustainable printing strategies across Europe.
According to the report, most European organisations are failing to centralise their document governance, with only 33 percent of companies claiming to have implemented a fully developed strategy to deal with paper and energy wastage. This means that many companies are overlooking tactical actions they can take, not only to improve sustainability but to reduce costs as well.
Paper wastage is one of the highest costs to businesses, with the total spend on document management in Europe currently exceeding 14 billion euros per year – up to five percent of annual turnover. Despite this, 32 percent of business leaders allow employees to do what they like with regard to duplex printing (printing on both sides of the paper) and 19 percent are either still in the planning stages or have no plans to implement a duplex printing policy. Only 18 percent have implemented a such a policy company-wide.
One of the main obstacles for companies attempting to develop a green printing strategy is a lack of awareness among employees. The report found that almost half (47 percent) of European business leaders are unfamiliar with their company’s recycling policy and 40 percent with their toner recycling policy.
“Despite sustainability being an important fixture on the business agenda, and documents making up an essential part of day-to-day business operations, there remains a lack of awareness of the role that document governance can play in driving both environmental and business efficiencies,” said Tom Wagland, manager of Ricoh’s Environmental Management Group. “Businesses need to act now by taking some simple steps to improve the way they are managing and controlling their document workflows.”
One of the ways that Ricoh proposes to combat this problem is with its Pay Per Page Green consultancy service, which it claims can highlight an organisation’s current costs and environmental impacts and propose an optimised solution, offering lower, visible costs, reduced environmental impacts – on average of between 10 and 30 percent – and improve business efficiency.
“We take a cradle-to-cradle approach to sustainable innovation; offering products and services that contribute to environmental preservation from design to recycling,” said Shun Sato, vice president of Ricoh Europe in a statement in February.
Efforts to sell green printing strategies generally rely on having fewer printers, under tighter central control, with some sort of “pull-printing” service so users can’t get their output without a security token, reducing the dangers of a shared output tray. “We must constantly be rethinking current practices in the light of new technologies and sustainability issues,” Lexmark’s director of sustainable affairs Béatrice Marneffe told eWEEK Europe in June.
Although printer manufacturers’ motives are arguably mixed, since they profit from extra output, they say customer demand is helping the sustainable approach: “It’s not in our interest for customers to print less, but it is our business to make a profit from what the customers want,” Graham Long, vice president of Samsung’s European printing operation, told eWEEK Europe in July.
Earlier this year, HP launched a similar service to that of Ricoh, which it says will cut enterprise printing costs by over 15 percent, and reduce carbon footprints, if companies sign up to a total print service managed by HP.