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The Paperless Chase

How to cut back on the high cost of printing

This story appears in the September 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Every company is looking to trim paper consumption and waste, and being green is only part of the reason: As much as 3 percent of corporate revenues are spent on printing costs, according to research by Gartner Inc., largely because of the high price of toner and ink.


Taking the Print Out of Print

What would Joey Johnson, owner of Atlanta-based Graphic Mechanic, do with an extra $5,000?

Read up on the stimulus package at the official website. Figure out where and what type of projects you should pursue.

Since taking her graphic design business full time in 2006, Joey Johnson has put together websites, catalogs and advertisements for dozens of clients. But her focus now is to become a leader in paperless publishing.

Her "ePubby" service can produce electronic brochures and catalogs that are designed and read like print products. "Large entities can save time and money and drastically reduce their carbon footprints by printing fewer high-profile documents like annual reports, newsletters and product catalogs, and publishing them online," she says. Her big challenge? Convincing skeptical clients that electronic publishing is the way to go at conferences and workshops she calls Green Initiatives for Trade. -Jason Daley

No wonder about half of the small businesses in the United States have already taken steps to reduce the use of office supplies and printing, recent market research by AMI-Partners has found, and many plan to prolong the life of basic computing hardware such as PCs and printers as the recession wears on.

So in the pursuit of conserving resources of all stripes, here are a few things to keep in mind before hitting the print button:

Don't do it, unless it's absolutely necessary. Yes, it's obvious, but we still make far more printouts than we need. Studies show that most are used only once before they are thrown away.

Make sure critical content is easily accessible to employees--stored on a centralized server that simplifies online sharing and electronic document review. The more you facilitate electronic collaboration, the less likely employees are to reflexively hit print.

If you are investing in new printers, explore alternatives to the standard toner-cartridge models. For example, Xerox recently introduced office copiers that use hunks of ink that remain solid at room temperature and melt when heated. The ColorQube copiers start at $21,300--pricey but in the same range as a conventional office printer--and Xerox claims they can slash the cost of color documents from 8 cents to about 3 cents per page.

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