It’s time to stop and think about the impact of printing


Gambling with the future of the environment should never be an option.

However, through innovation comes choice, and the choices that have been made during the last two centuries have increased concerns for the environment and overall sustainability.


During the last century, some of the most important and influential innovations were printers and printer cartridges. Prior to these inventions, people were busy documenting items on typewriters or even handwriting items for documentation. It’s allowed people and organizations to scale up their operations and productivity, but it has come at an environmental cost as well.

Why is there a cause for concern? And why does it cause a risk to our future?

Printers need to be powered and the source of most of their power comes from the burning of fossil fuels. Coal-fired power plants are among the biggest culprits. With a printer in pretty much every office in the world, the demand for an energy source will continue.


The second major issue that’s risen to prominence is the impact that the printing industry has on waste. The disposal of paper waste has increased drastically since the introduction of office printers. Even though the paper can biodegrade, there are still some types of paper which release toxins into the environment.


The other is the issue around used ink cartridges. Up to 80 million used ink cartridges end up in landfill globally each year. The estimated time for ink cartridges to biodegrade is 400 to 1000 years. To add to the issue, the local ecosystem gets affected due to animals and plants consuming some of the toxins from the plastics and inks from the used ink cartridges.


Cartridges 4 Planet Ark have cited in their fact sheet that by helping to ‘Close the loop’ when it comes to used ink cartridges, water and energy can be saved. It also helps the prevention of hundreds of thousands of greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere.

How can things be improved for the future?

Be aware of how raw sources impact the environment.

People and organizations also need to think about the indirect environmental impact that printers and ink cartridges will have on the environment and take steps towards minimising that impact.


For example, in 2008, American printing company Printing for less released a press release committed to purchasing its energy supply from renewable power generated by a local wind farm. Even though the supply of power cost slightly more, the company would benefit over the long-term by producing products that would have a much lower carbon footprint on the environment.

Close the loop by implementing sustainable processes or partnering with organizations that have ethical recycling processes in place.

The easiest action that organizations can take is to partner with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) or suppliers that have a model that promotes sustainability.


One of the leading printer and ink cartridges suppliers in Australia, Cartridges Direct, have really taken the helm by partnering with organizations like Cartridges 4 Planet Ark. This has been in an effort to ensure that the return of used ink cartridges is made simple and that they end up in the hands of ethical suppliers. You can click here to see the range of eco-friendly printers for sale on their website.

What else can the manufacturers do to minimise their product’s environmental impact?

Manufacturers have already taken steps to minimise the electrical consumption from their printers when left in an idle state. There are also improvements being made to make the ink and the printer cartridges materials more eco-friendly, so fewer carcinogens end up in the environment.


There’s still much more that needs to be achieved, but we cannot keep on doing what has always been done. Change is needed to prevent the peril outlook of the environment.