The manufacture, use and disposal of office equipment that uses paper can contribute to air emissions, water pollution, use of toxic materials and generation of hazardous and other wastes. Obsolete office equipment, computers and other electronic goods are an increasing part of the waste stream.
The NSW Government buys large quantities of office equipment. Selecting equipment that can use remanufactured toner cartridges and recycled content paper can reduce the impact of these machines.
Machine consumables such as toner cartridges also need to be considered. An estimated 18 million toner cartridges are disposed of in Australia each year, resulting in about 5000 tonnes of waste. (Planet Ark)
Recycled content paper can be used in most types of office equipment (e.g. fax machines, printers etc) without causing problems.
Under NSW Government Contract ITS 2007, suppliers have agreed to take back one computer for reuse or recycling for every computer installed.
Office equipment and consumables covered by the WRAPP include:
- toner cartridges.
- Look at the types of machines and consumables your organisation uses. Are they recycled or recyclable? When will they be replaced? Who supplies them?
- Buying a networked multi function machine (combined printer, photocopier, fax and scanner) reduces the number of individual machines in the office - however be aware that their increased printing capacity can increase paper use.
- Do some research. What types of suitable recyclable or remade machines are available? When replacing equipment ask potential suppliers if their machines take recycled cartridges. Understand differences between different types of recycled cartridges.
- Avoid buying large and complex machines with lots of unnecessary functions - people will waste time and resources figuring out how to use them. Get something small, basic and robust.
- Rent equipment you use only occasionally.
- Change your equipment supply contract to require supply of remade machines or toner cartridges where possible.
- Ask suppliers about available recycled cartridges for machines. Ask if they void any warranties or service agreements. Do they operate a take-back scheme for used machines or cartridges?
- Find out if suppliers or other companies operate a take-back scheme for used machines or cartridges.
- Order cartridges with minimal packaging. Order cartridges in bulk if possible or organise a centralised purchasing arrangement.
- Make sure all printers and copiers are capable of duplex (double sided) printing, and set this as the default setting to reduce paper consumption.
- Where possible, purchase a printer capable of two-up printing (i.e. two pages on each side of the sheet) for use when printing large publications for review.
- Avoid using the fax - use e-mail instead.
- Configure your fax so it doesn't print unnecessary activity reports.
- Long life cartridges with additional paper yield are available. Ask your supplier if they can be used in your office machines.
- Don't print e-mails or other documents unless you absolutely have to.
- Set printers and photocopiers to double sided printing where this function is available. Ensure staff are properly trained and know how to use paper-saving functions of office equipment such as double sided printing and photocopying.
- Be careful if using multifunction machines. Reduce printing of graphics, pictures or images downloaded from the internet: additional page coverage will significantly reduce toner life.
- Look after office equipment. Have machines regularly maintained and stick to maintenance schedules.
- Consider having large print runs photocopied or professionally printed to avoid excessive wear and tear on machines.
- Find out what happens to obsolete or used machines at the end of their useful life. Can they be remade into new machines? Can recyclable components of machines (e.g. plastic panels) be stripped off and made into other products?
- Donate obsolete but functioning machines to charities or sell them at auction.
- Ensure toner cartridges are not put out with other office wastes - Put a toner cartridge collection system in place, send the used cartridges to the supplier or manufacturer or a third party recycler
- Collect unused stationery items (rulers, staplers, clips etc) and return them to the stationery cupboard for reuse.
- Investigate if machines can be rebuilt or refurbished by the manufacturer. Establish if the machine comes with a guarantee. This can be much cheaper than buying a new machine.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011