As climate change increasingly becomes a topic of interest across the globe, green initiatives have gained more and more traction.
Organisations are now looking to reduce their carbon footprint and minimise harmful waste that can have a negative impact on the environment, says Tyrone Malan, Lexmark product specialist at DCC.

This green trend is driven not only by an increased environmental consciousness, but also by the impending implementation of laws, regulations and carbon taxes governing the reduction of CO2 emissions. Printing, typically considered to be one of the most wasteful of business practices, is one area where organisations can easily create a positive impact on their carbon footprint, simply by making use of eco-friendly technologies and recycling used printer cartridges and consumables.

The paperless office is unfortunately far from reality, as printing still plays an integral role in many back office processes. Despite efforts to reduce printing consumption, many practices still rely on physical signatures, meaning documents inevitably must be printed. However, wasteful practices could end up costing organisations significant sums, as Carbon Tax, which is expected to be implemented in 2016, will compel companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 34%, and later by 42%. Small changes to printing practices can therefore make a significant positive difference to an organisation’s carbon footprint, a key consideration with the imminent promulgation of Carbon Tax.

Practices such as automatic double sided printing, draft mode, eco print and more are tools that have existed for many years and can help organisations to cut down on the resources used by printing. However, the reality is that printing is a necessary office function, and organisations therefore need to look at other ways to reduce their carbon impact. One of the easiest ways to do this is to recycle print consumables such as ink and toner cartridges. These cartridges often end up on landfills, contributing to the generation of CO2 and methane emissions, and this is an entirely avoidable situation.

According to the University of Leicester, one tonne of biodegradable waste produces between 200 and 400 cubic metres of landfill gas. According to the National Waste Information Baseline Report released in 2012 by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), South Africans generate around 108 million tonnes of waste a year, with 98-million tonnes of that ending up on landfill sites. This equates to a staggering amount of between 19 600 000 000 and 39 200 000 000 cubic metres of landfill gas generated by South Africa alone in a single year. Furthermore, according to the DEA report, only 10% of total waste is recycled.

Printer cartridge recycling is a simple initiative, often facilitated free of charge by printer manufacturers, which can help to keep these products off landfill sites and can help organisations reduce their carbon footprint. For example, through the cartridge recycling initiatives of a single printer manufacturer in South Africa, since 2002 more than 230 tons of printer cartridges have been kept from landfills. This equates to an emissions reduction of between 46 000 and 92 000 cubic metres.

Recycling has the potential to make an enormous difference to carbon emissions, and should therefore be high on the corporate agenda in light of Carbon Tax. From printer cartridges to paper, plastic, consumables and more, many products can be easily recycled to reduce organisations’ carbon footprint, saving money in light of the impending Carbon Tax and helping to reduce South Africa’s impact on the environment.