Despite digital advances, 86% of British employees still see the physical page as a crucial part of productivity in the workplace1, so it’s unsurprising that in the first half of 2020, shipments of ink tank printers grew by 56%2, enabling Britons to more effectively work and teach from home in a period of unforeseen change
Technology manufacturer Epson has long been a pioneer of developing sustainable printers, but just how sustainable is a technology that is completely designed around paper? Epson’s Product Manager for Business Imaging Dan Wogan explains more about the ‘elephant in the room’, and how and why Epson’s newly available PaperLab is helping to address this issue, while offering additional benefits to workplaces.
The paperless office isn’t going to take place in my lifetime and if it were, Epson would be focussing its innovation and its daily R&D spend of $1.2 million into something else. What will happen while I’m still around is a tremendous shift towards more sustainable technologies, which is why Epson’s pioneering role in sustainability isn’t based on remarkable offsetting projects, but rather focuses on engineering product solutions that not only support business eco systems but reduce the carbon footprint of our channel partners and their end-users.
To make print sustainable, we’ve engineered inkjet printers that are heat-free, consume less energy, run off large bags of ink that last longer and minimise waste, and require minimal user intervention. Consider the alternative in an unsustainable, high-intervention laser printer, which with the right post-sales service and support can serve a business over a long period of time, but what does this support cost us in CO2 emissions? You’d have to account for the time spent with customer support, the distance technical specialists then travel getting to and from the product, the storage and shipment of components (from who knows where), not to mention the end-user that can’t print in the meantime. That’s a big carbon footprint. Paper, the ‘elephant in the room’ when print and sustainability are put in the same sentence, is a renewable source, but what does the process for a circular economy of paper cost us in CO2 emissions? Is recycling paper enough? In a traditional paper recycling process, paper is collected, transported, recycled at the papermill, transported and collected again, all the while creating a large eco footprint that uses lots of water and a number of different third parties, which if you’re a security conscious business, is an another unappealing compromise for what you felt was making the right decision to recycle your paper.
With PaperLab, which is now available in the UK, a business can securely destroy and upcycle paper in-house, on demand. It creates new paper from printed paper in just 3 minutes by defibrating your wastepaper (obliterating it to the state of fibre), binding it and then forming it using Epson’s own dry-fibre technology, where the only water used is to keep the machine humid rather than clean the paper fibres as it would in a paper mill. Thanks to the defibration process, PaperLab has been certified with the highest security rating (ISO 21964-2 Level P7) in an independent audit. It can be leased or bought outright but as with all Epson business technology is sold through the channel with the customer in mind, and the cost of PaperLab is subject to expected paper volumes and is tailored on a case by case basis.
But PaperLab is not so much a product as it is an ongoing commitment for businesses to harness control of the circular
economy of paper, guarantee the security of information, preserve water resources and demonstrate their support for a sustainable new normal. The immediate result is a continuous supply of A4 and A3 paper of varying colour and thickness that has been certified by the highest rating for long-term stability. The extended result is the message you’re sending to your business’s employees, your customers and other stakeholders, that you are stepping up and taking real responsibility for steering our planet back in the direction of positive environmental change.
According to new research, 82% of businesses are working environmental considerations into COVID-19 business recovery plans, while 84% confirm green tech credentials are important to their business3. And while there are some that may appreciate PaperLab’s security benefits and others that recognise the practical value of on-demand paper upcycling, just how justified is PaperLab as an act of corporate social responsibility (CSR)? The thing about new, uncontested technology is that it disrupts the market, which for our channel partners means it can open more doors for them with their customers, and for end-users sets a benchmark for innovative change. The new normal cannot be the same as the old normal only with more ‘wash your hands’ signs, but a more standardised circular economy on the other hand might just push us in the right direction.
For more information on PaperLab, visit: www.epson.co.uk/paperlab
2 Source: IDC, Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker, published Q2 2020) When comparing 2019 H1 to 2020 H1 (January to June)
3 Research commissioned by Epson, conducted by B2B international Ltd to 4000 working professionals across EMEA