Consumers misinformed about printer pollution: survey

A Lexmark-sponsored survey shows buyers are environmentally conscious when selecting a printer but are still confused about the biggest source of printing pollution

The majority of consumers are misinformed about the biggest source of printing pollution, a new survey shows. Up to 64 per cent of those surveyed believed that ink and toner use and disposal was the largest contributor to a printer's or multifunction's carbon footprint.

The survey, commissioned by printer manufacturer Lexmark, found that consumers were generally environmentally conscious when selecting and using their printers, but were still misinformed in some areas. Eighty four per cent of those surveyed said they were more likely to choose a printer from an environmentally responsible manufacturer. However, only 39 per cent of consumers believed that printer manufacturers were showing enough initiative in terms of recycling.

The survey was conducted by Ipsos and involved 10,000 people from 21 countries. According to the survey, consumers were attracted to "one-click" environmental printing options (such as selecting toner-saving modes). When it comes to malfunctioning printers, up to 91 per cent of those surveyed said they would rather fix the device that was under warranty rather than dispose of it.

Contrary to the beliefs of those surveyed, according to a study by Lexmark paper consumption is actually a bigger cause of pollution than ink. The survey showed that 75 per cent of those surveyed felt guilty about printing unnecessary pages.

"This survey clearly shows that people worldwide need more education and guidance on printing best practices," said Tonya Jackson, director of sustainable technology and operations at Lexmark.

Given that printer manufacturers have no control over an individual's paper consumption, they have traditionally focused on ink and laser consumables to reduce environmental impact. These include waste-reducing solid ink consumables on some Fuji Xerox laser printers as well as other environmentally friendly ink and laser consumables from the likes of Epson and Brother.

Environmental organisation Planet Ark also runs the "Cartridges 4 Planet Ark" which provides drop-off points for used laser and ink consumables in major retail locations.

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