Thursday, June 03, 2010

Stop! Don't Print That Page (In Colour)

Many government departments have issued an edict to stop using colour printing to aid towards saving costs (not to mention the green upside). Email footers saying "save a tree, think before you print" will now change to "black print good, no print better" (on the basis that whilst it's always referred to as printing in "black and white" the only printing done is in black).

Gartner say print costs run as follows:

Ranges are presented for four classes of printers.

1. For desktop monochrome laser printers, consumables can be expected to range from 2.5 cent to 6 cents per page, assuming a 5 percent coverage area.

2. For color laser printers, consumables can be expected to range from 5 cents to 12 cents per page, assuming a 20 percent coverage area. Color printers require four sets of supplies — cyan, yellow, magenta and black — to produce a multicolor document. Hence the 20 percent area coverage represents 5 percent of each color. On many documents, especially PowerPoint slides, area coverage often exceeds 20 percent.

3. For personal and workgroup inkjet color printers, consumables can be expected to range from 9 cents to 20 cents per page, assuming a 20 percent coverage area.

4. For workgroup, departmental and centralized monochrome printers, consumables can be expected to range from 1 cent to 2 cents per page, assuming a 5 percent coverage area.

As validation for those figures, here are figures for one printer

HP Officejet K5400 has an estimated cost per page of black ink of 1.4 cents, and color is 5.9 cents per page.

Even if these costs were pennies rather than cents ... it's going to take a lot of not printing in colour to make a dent in the budget deficit.

At 20p a page (taking the max of workgroup colour printers from Gartner)

530,000 civil servants in UK government (the ONS estimates for civil service headcount in Q3 2009 say 533,140)

10 pages per day per person ... that would be 5,300,000 pages at a cost of £1,060,000 a day.

Say 220 working days in the year and there might be as much as £233,000,000 spent each year on printing (not to mention initial purchase costs and then costs of replacement, disposal of printers and the environmental impact of building them, installing them and servicing them).

To save the £6.5bn total required, that would be 28 years of not printing. Or, alternatively, 32.5bn pages would need not to be printed at all to reach the government's initial cost save target. If we arbitrage cost of colour versus cost of black and white, then we could be looking at anywhere from 5 to 20x those amounts.

All of these numbers, except the Gartner ones and the HP cost per page are made up of course - I was just interested in what it might look like. I wonder how many pages are actually printed per day across government?

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