MPS or managed print services are becoming more and more popular, often for reasons including increased security, environmental friendliness, and the potential to reduce total costs. Managed print services work to optimize print across organizations, which can and very often does lead to measurable results for all three.

If you’re considering switching to an MPS to reduce your environmental footprint, it’s important to understand how managed print services affect how you use and manage paper and ink usage. It’s also important to see what could happen in your organization, how it will affect your print quality and volume, and what actual changes you’ll see. This will help you make a better decision when choosing MPS, so that you know what you’re getting and why.

Understanding Your Impact

One of the most noticeable changes MPS brings to an organization is simple visibility. Most managed print service providers will begin their contract with a needs-assessment program, followed by changing software and technology to meet those needs. The follow-up to this process is, of course, continued monitoring. Most MPS vendors install print management software as a standard, which allows for security standards but also ongoing needs assessment and evaluation.

Your MPS can tell you how many unnecessary printers you have, where you’re losing and wasting energy, how much paper you’re wasting, how much you’re spending on unnecessary prints, and so on. Your MPS will also continue to monitor usage after optimizing these factors, so that you understand where printers are being used, to what impact and effect, and your total environmental impact.

If you know how much paper you’re using, how many hours printers are running, and exactly how much ink and toner you’re using, you know exactly what your impact is. You can then use this information to promote reduced printing to further cut your environmental impact, or simply to manage your current impact.

Reducing Waste

MPS function to reduce waste in several ways, both highlighting how you are currently wasting paper or electric and then optimizing how you use resources over time. For example, many offices maintain old and outdated printers, which consume a great deal of energy. Replacing them with newer printers with instant on/off functions to reduce warm-up periods could cut energy by more than 50%.

Similarly, many offices over-supply teams with printers. During initial printer-purchase, organizations purchase to meet the expected needs of the highest-volume print teams, and then quite-often deliver those print solutions across the organization. Some studies suggest that the average office has one printer for every 2-4 people, when actual need is typically closer to one printer per 6-10 people.

A managed print services vendor will analyze for actual needs and install to-demand and need in each location. This can greatly cut down on excess printers, greatly reduce energy consumption from always-on printers, and greatly reduce waste.

MPS also function to monitor printed paper, create digital backup copies, and to create digital print management. This makes individuals more aware of how much paper they’re using and what they’re printing. It also ensures that backup copies exist and that people don’t have to print to have backups and copies to share or send to people.

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year, primarily in printing. The same report states that 3.7 million tons of copy paper are used in the U.S. each year, resulting in over 2,100 billion gallons of waste water. Considering more than 40% of office waste consists of paper, cutting down on this usage greatly helps to reduce your environmental impact.

For example, MPS will automatically create standards for using two-sided documents, creating digital backups and digital archives to reduce printing, sharing files electronically, and tracking just how much is being printed.

While MPS isn’t the end-all of reducing paper waste, it is a very good way to create standards that help reduce waste, while allowing you to track actual usage and share information to employees.

Digital Print Management

MPS include printer hardware as well as print servers and software or SaaS to manage your print files. This may include a printer queue, user access management, user history, archive, digital sharing, and much more. Digital print management can also allow you to restrict how much individuals can print by restricting printer access.

Rather than allowing anyone to go up to a printer and use it, printers require access codes, log what is being printed to the user’s ID and account and maintain a history of files. This functions to prevent unnecessary printing in several ways, both by reducing instances of frivolous printing and by reducing the need to print duplicates and backup files. Making the process of printing more difficult will also reduce printing.

Why is this important? Print Audit suggests that the average office worker prints 24+ pages per day and doesn’t use most of them. Using digital print management allows you to cut down on this statistic by making it easier not to print and by making it more difficult to print.

An MPS primarily functions to optimize your printing network. This includes analyzing what you need, updating your hardware to meet those needs, and monitoring print usage and demand to further optimize for your needs. This will reduce instances where you have too many printers, where printers are using more energy than needed because they don’t meet demand, and from excessive use. While it’s not designed to reduce your environmental impact, the effect of reducing waste and energy usage very often aligns with reducing your footprint and reducing your total environmental impact.

What’s the end result? If your printer network isn’t already fully optimized, you could greatly reduce your waste paper and ink by implementing MPS. You could likely take the same steps yourself by analyzing your print needs, implementing printers that fit each team and office, and implementing software to continue to monitor and manage usage, while providing an online queue management and print archive, but chances are, you could do so much more affordably and effectively through an MPS vendor.