Piping Down On Printing

Project Title: Reducing Printing Receipts

Project Timeline: Can be done within a month

-Contact the company that handles UIC’s printing system

-Have someone from their team manually change the system settings on each printer and machine that applies.

-Test out the new modifications to ensure the change will run successfully for faculty and students without any potential issues.

Project Description: Although UIC does its best to implement the act of reusing and recycling paper contents through the “reduce, reuse, recycle” pledge, reducing on-site printing paper has the potential to be cut down even more. As known, the best way to solve a problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Therefore, if we focus on reducing the amount of paper we print on campus, that will also help reduce the amount that could have been ultimately reused and/or recycled.

Currently, whenever a student prints through the school’s server, an extra sheet automatically gets printed out as a receipt of the printing job. Thousands of print outs are done each day, so this means thousands of these extra pieces of paper are produced too. Unfortunately, not all sheets are tossed in the recycling bin so this means it acquires waste that could be absolutely avoided. Also, not every campus computer has printing settings set on “print double-sided”, so making this setting as a default could also save print-outs that unnecessarily end up using twice the amount of paper than needed.

Since printing receipts are still important, they can be automatically emailed with confirmation to the student’s email linked to their UIC account as an alternative. The school’s printing company could code up some software that would send out the receipts after processing to ensure that the task was successful and update the remaining balance left on their account for printing transactions. According to an article published by the Huffington Post, “forgoing 55,000 receipts can spare an entire tree”.  Altogether, this will save time of printing, the energy it takes to print, the application of ink, and the thousands of sheets that don’t need to be produced. This could also possibly be applied with copy machines and scanners.

This would be a great addition to UIC’s Climate Commitments which promises a movement towards a more sustainable campus in the years to come. In their 2nd section, Zero Waste Campus, the proposition discusses efficient ways of eliminating waste regarding water and landfill waste. With technology becoming a benefit of promoting the prevention of tree usage, I would suggest looking into ways receipts could be factored into the zero waste policy by being exchanged digitally. This could also include receipts given at the bookstore, food/meal transactions, library book rentals and other places at the university that could use this digital alternative as an advantage.

Project Budget: Since this project doesn’t require anything new to be set in place, this should not require much funds, as the school has a contract with their printing company that does regular maintenance work for them anyway. Even if it would cost extra to have this done manually, the long term savings would end up outweighing the labor cost very quickly.






2 thoughts on “Piping Down On Printing

  1. This is a worthy idea for the city, county and state departments associated with the campus environment as well as all vendors who provide various services. In the current tech filled environment smart phones allow receipts to be electronically emailed, texted and delivered to customers to confirm purchases and other transactions. There could be an immediate impact reflected in the saving of receipt paper which is most often disgarded. In addition, with apps like the apple ipay, connected debit or credit cards provide consumers with immediate access to their spending records for review and verification.


  2. This is actually one of the things that annoys me the most about the university. The amount of paper wasted every year at colleges is disgusting. I read an interesting article by the Office of Sustainability at Tufts University about how Boston University campaigned to stop giving employees paper pay stubs and that alone could save them $50,000. Imagine if students and employees cut back on printing. The amount saved would be hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think the best way to do this is to put all assignments and notes online, and as mentioned above, to set every printer to print double-sided. Putting everything online for students could even help them stay more organized. This will save, as the article states, thousands of pounds of paper, wastewater, and gas.



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