Despite the best efforts to go digital and paperless, research by the Paperless Project has shown that the average office employee still prints as many as 10,000 sheets of paper per year.
Besides the actual number of used paper, there are several other negative impact that printing can have on the earth. Firstly, it takes a lot of materials and energy to manufacture a printer, plus the fuel and other toxic chemicals that are needed to make laser cartridges and inks. Secondly, most of these cartridges are discarded once empty and they end up in landfills. According to Planet Ark, about 34 printer cartridges get sent to landfills every minute in Australia alone.
Thirdly, most printers are switched on to standby mode during the day, which means they continue to consume electricity even while waiting for print jobs. These printers also become hazardous electronic waste once they reach end of life.
To address these issues, some major printer manufacturers and brands have made some conscious attempts to produce eco-friendly printers.
Epson’s EcoTank printers come with integrated high-capacity and refillable ink tanks, and can print up to a year’s worth of pages before needing a refill. Once the ink tank is empty, all you need to do is refill it instead of replacing the cartridges. This means less physical waste, which leads to less environmental impact. The refill bottles and the printer itself are recyclable products.
Some of the Epson EcoTank models also come with the duplex printing function, which helps to cut paper usage significantly.
Canon has several environmental initiatives, one of which is the Generation Green program, which looked into reducing ink and paper consumption as well as increasing energy efficiency in its PIXMA inkjet printers and imageCLASS laser printers.
Canon has come up with the LCA Conscious Design to help reduce carbon monoxide emissions in certain products such as the imageRUNNER ADVANCE series. The company was also the first to develop plant-derived bio-based plastics to be used for some external parts of their multifunction devices.
Brother is committed to develop eco technology, and has created the recyclable toner cartridge as well as offer a recycling automation system, among other environmental programs.
Besides complying with the International Energy Star Rating Program, Brother has also reformed the airflow system of some of their printers, making it more efficient and reducing energy consumption, while also improving product lifespan.
With super-sized and refillable ink tanks, the Epson EcoTank ET-4750 is a multifunction printer that offers cartridge-free printing. It includes up to two years of ink in the box, which is equivalent to about 30 ink cartridges and is enough to print up to 11,200 pages.
The Canon PIXMA Endurance G2600 is designed to keep printing for a longer time with giant ink tanks. The printer also comes up with an auto on and off feature to ensure that your printer is not constantly switched on, helping you to save energy.
The Brother MFC-9340CDW allows for greater efficiency with its fast print speeds of up to 22 pages per minute, and also offers replaceable high-yield toner cartridges. Its automatic two-side printing is a great function to keep paper usage minimal.
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