Lexmark: Paper key to lower carbon output

Enterprises need to focus on paper reduction, as paper usage accounts for 80 percent of a printer's carbon footprint, says chairman and CEO Paul Curlander.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Paper usage is a major contributor to a printer's carbon footprint, according to printing and imaging vendor Lexmark.

Paul Curlander, Lexmark's chairman and CEO, told media Friday the company conducted a lifecycle analysis of one of the most popular laser printers earlier this year, and found that paper accounted for about 80 percent of a printer's carbon footprint.

The manufacturing process constituted about 9 percent, printer toner 8 percent and energy consumption, another 5 percent. Shipping made up a small fraction at 0.3 percent.

An employee generates on average, 13,000 pages a year--a significant environmental and cost problem for large enterprises, noted Curlander.

The cheapest device is the one you never buy, and the cheapest page is the one you never print.
Paul Curlander, Lexmark

He pointed out that companies demand energy efficiencies of devices in the workplace, and the industry has generally been able to make improvements to each new generation of products. But enterprises often do not know or have the ability to track the number of pages being printed, utilization of devices and costs of running them.

From interaction with customers, Lexmark found that customers have far too many devices such as printers, copiers and fax machines, with the majority of such equipment under-utilized, said Curlander. They are also often not in the right locations, "from a productivity standpoint".

"We find that very often, customers save up to 40 percent just with the consolidation phase," he noted. "But paper is really the target. There can be additional savings again by reducing paper, and that's what we really want to focus people on.

"The reality is: the cheapest device is the one you never buy, and the cheapest page is the one you never print," he added.

To be able to print less, Lexmark wants enterprises to focus on the mantra, "print, move, manage", said Curlander.

Optimizing the printing process involves choosing the right devices and locating them strategically. The company also has a "print-release" function that requires users to authenticate print jobs at any printer on the company network; otherwise the jobs get deleted after a period of time. Lexmark's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore has reported a 67 percent reduction in paper usage, Curlander said.

Instead of making hard copies, organizations can use multi-function devices to "move paper-based information digitally", he added. Lexmark's e-Task interface in most of its multi-function equipment allows users to, for example, scan and e-mail directly and can be customized to include functions specific to an industry or business.

Tracking and managing reductions is also an important component, noted Curlander. Lexmark currently is helping "hundreds of customers" manage and monitor features such as optimization level.

Going forward, Lexmark will continue to focus on helping customers "significantly reduce" their operation costs and page generation, said Curlander. "All our customers are looking to reduce cost every year, and improve productivity. This is what we need to bring if we want to be successful in the business.

"Revenue per customer [will likely be lowered] over time but we will get many more customers. That's the business model--that's the plan," he added.

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