How to Reduce Paper Waste & Printing Costs: 5 Tips from the Pros

Kelly Moran
Author: Kelly Moran Date: 10/27/2016

It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that every office environment in this country would like to reduce waste and printing costs. The cumulative cost of waste is staggering: one recent study shows that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year, with 45% of paper printed ending up in the trash. Another study, by Citigroup, shows that if each employee used double-sided copying to conserve just one sheet of paper each week, the savings were worth $700,000 a year!

How do you get your entire organization motivated to reduce waste and costs – and what are the steps involved? Here are some simple, easy-to-implement tips for minimizing what you spend on paper and printing:

Think Before You Print

Not all printing is necessary. Too often copies are made for things like meetings and presentations when the participants would actually prefer to view the documents online. You can make documents online editable, too, so people can view them during and after the meeting and add notes or next steps.

Remind employees, verbally and with friendly signage posted near each printer, to be practical in determining how many copies to make. We recently saw this simply stated sign in a customer’s workplace: “Ask yourself: how many copies do I really need?”

It’s possible, using today’s printer technologies, to allow staff to measure how many copies they make each month. Most are surprised to learn just how much paper they’re actually going through – and with that knowledge they’re more likely to self-regulate the number they’re printing.

Finally, when it comes to distribution lists, review yours regularly to ensure that everyone on it still needs to receive the information being printed.

Go Digital Whenever Possible

In the U.S., companies spend more than $120 billion a year on printed forms, most of which are outdated within 3 months. Not only that, but the typical employee spends up to 40% of his or her time looking for printed documents lurking in filing cabinets. When they’re organized and accessible online, frequently used forms can be filled out and distributed online, taking the place of many that are printed and saving valuable time and money in the process.

Make Adherence Mandatory

Here are a few easily adopted standards that can be made defaults in every employee’s computer:

  • Set computer and copier settings to automatically print double-sided and in black and white – don’t just assume people will remember to do it. You’ll find the settings right in the computer’s print dialogue box
  • Set Word documents to have narrower margins. This means more of the paper will be used, with the cumulative effect being fewer pages needed over time
  • Reduce the point size of your type to 10 and you’ll begin to require less paper to print
  • Some fonts actually use less ink than others, another way to save money (though the effect is undoubtedly modest). Arial, for example, uses less ink than do serif fonts like Century Schoolbook


One of the best ways to reduce the effect of waste on each one of us is to recycle your paper. In addition to making separate waste bins available for paper and other recyclables, encourage employees to refrain from discarding paper that’s been printed on just one side. Suggest they do what schoolteachers (who often pay for their own class supplies) do: use the opposite side for taking notes, making lists or to jot down reminders. Discarded paper is a major component of many landfill sites, accounting for about 35% by weight of municipal solid waste. Anything we can do to minimize what we put into our landfills benefits us all.

Partner With the Pros

When you partner with an expert in office technology, like the Gordon Flesch Company, you have a team on your side thinking about the efficiency and productivity of your business every day. One of the ways we help organizations like yours reduce waste and printer-related costs is to proactively perform maintenance on your equipment so it’s working properly at all times. The other way is by assessing your processes and equipment, then developing a smart plan gets the most out of every printer (and eliminates those that aren’t needed) and recommending functionality that allows you monitor, measure and minimize your paper and toner usage.

Those are just a few of the ways we deliver efficiency and productivity. What are some of the waste or cost pain points in your workplace? Give us a challenge and we’ll come back to you with smart, practical and actionable insights. It’s what we do!

Managed Print Solutions - Appleton Area School District

Topics: Managed Print

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Written by Kelly Moran

Kelly has extensive experience within the Gordon Flesch Company, having joined us in 1984 in Sales and achieving his way to Senior VP of Sales & Marketing. He develops and promotes our ongoing value to customers in terms of productivity, cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

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