SymQuest Blog

The Carbon Footprint of Office Printing

October 30, 2013 - SymQuest Blog, Green IT, Office Technology

The Carbon Footprint of Office Printing
Mark Jennings

Posted by Mark Jennings

Updated October 28, 2019

You might think about your carbon footprint when you drive your car to work or use a disposable coffee cup.

But do you think about the carbon footprint of deciding to print a document? Printing in the office doesn’t just hurt the business budget —it costs the environment too.

Here are some surprising facts about the carbon footprint of printing.

  • One ream of paper (500 sheets) uses 6% of a tree.
  • Paper (not plastic) is the largest source of municipal waste in the United States. In 2017,  Americans threw out 18.3 million tons of paper (which is 15,000 times the weight of a giant redwood, the largest type of tree in the world).
  • Printing is the second largest use of paper, behind packing.  Printing and writing paper makes up about a quarter of the global paper production total. Production of printing, writing and newsprint paper in 2018 totaled 110 million tons (that's 75,000 giant redwoods by weight).   
  • North Americans consume nearly 500 pounds of paper per year on average. That's more than three times the global average. 
  • Production of one ton of copy paper (400 reams) uses 11,341 kilowatt-hours of energy (the same amount of energy used by an average household in 10 months). It also produces 5,869 pounds of greenhouse gases (the equivalent of 6 months of car exhaust).

So with all the paper that can be wasted in an office environment, what are some things your business can do to reduce your carbon footprint?

  • Be sure all documents are edited as thoroughly as possible before printing so there’s fewer risk of re-dos. If you make a mistake, recycle the paper or use it for something else.
  • Change your settings so that you’re fitting more content on each page and printing on both sides of the paper when possible.
  • Take advantage of electronic document management. You’ll not only cut down on paper use and reduce your printing costs, but your entire office will function more efficiently.
  • Practice toner cartridge recycling.

No matter the size of your office, there are things everyone can do to waste less paper and reduce their carbon footprints.

Learn how SymQuest can help your office function more efficiently and improve your green efforts. Request a Print Assessment.

Updated Oct. 28, 2019


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Mark Jennings

about the author

Mark Jennings

Mark Jennings is SymQuest’s Area Vice President of IT Sales. Jennings works with SymQuest’s sales and service teams to educate customers on current best practices around data protection, disaster recovery, security, and overall technology planning.

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