printing and carbon emissions blog


Education & Advocacy: Spreading Awareness of Printing & Carbon Emissions

28th May 2024

From office documents to personal projects, printing remains an integral part of our lives, but its environmental consequences are often underestimated. Specifically, the carbon emissions generated from paper being printed every day in the UK pose a significant threat to our environment. The environmental footprint of printing extends far beyond the act of pressing the “print” button. It encompasses the entire lifecycle of paper production, from logging trees to manufacturing, transportation, and ultimately disposal. Each stage of this process releases greenhouse gases, primarily in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2).


How Much Does Paper Contribute To Carbon Emissions?

A study that was published in 2023 shows that the manufacture of paper and paper products in the UK produced around 2.6 million metric tons of carbon emissions in 2021. Although this was a decrease of 13% compared to 2020, it’s clear that there’s still some work to do. Standard office paper weighs 80g/m2, and one square meter of paper contains approximately 16 pages. To put that into perspective, this means that a single sheet of paper produces 5g of CO2.


What Contributes to Print-Related Carbon Emissions?

One of the primary contributors to printing-related carbon emissions is energy consumption. Printers, photocopiers, scanners and other printing equipment require large amounts of energy to operate, much of which comes from non-renewable sources such as coal and natural gas. Additionally, the production of paper itself is energy-intensive, further exacerbating the environmental impact of printing.

In addition, the disposal of printed materials contributes to rising carbon emissions. Landfilling paper waste releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas even more damaging to the environment than CO2. While, on average, paper can be recycled at least seven times and offers a more sustainable alternative, it still requires energy and resources.


How Can We Be More Sustainable?

Embracing sustainable practices, no matter how small, can make a significant difference in our efforts to be more environmentally conscious.

Embrace Digital Alternatives

One way we can reduce paper consumption is by switching to digital alternatives where possible. This means emailing documents and utilising document management software to store files and documents safely, which significantly decreases the need for printing. If you do need to print, you can print double-sided to conserve paper and reduce energy consumption.

Plant As You Print

Insight Systems is a proud partner of PrintReleaf, an environmental initiative in the print industry supporting global reforestation. In simple terms – for every page you print with one of our registered devices, we can automatically measure and PrintReleaf can automatically plant trees to offset your print consumption at their certified reforestation projects across the world.You can even gain insights such as your lifetime reforestation impact, download certificates, select which reforestation projects are important to you and your business, and even choose projects based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

print releaf and insight systems

Energy Efficient & Eco-Conscious Printers

Yes, they do exist! Energy-efficient and heat-free printers feature innovative technology to reduce energy and paper waste while optimising workflows and enhancing productivity. Epson’s heat-free printers, for instance, eliminate the number of steps needed to print a piece of paper compared to traditional, outdated printers. They also don’t require heat in the ink ejection process, which means lower power consumption.

By printing only what is needed and minimising waste, businesses and individuals can lower their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Print Management Software

Print management software is designed to streamline workplace processes and reduce paper waste and energy consumption. It allows you to have more control over your print output, track usage, and secure documents.

Not only does print management software offer environmental benefits to help with sustainability goals, but it’s also kinder on your bottom line. It helps to cut costs so you can enjoy cost-effective and efficient print solutions.

Epson’s Office Paper Recycler

Epson released PaperLab, a compact paper machine that is a game-changer in large offices. PaperLab is designed to recycle paper directly within the office environment without needing to send it offsite for processing. This machine can effectively recycle sheets of paper to produce new ones without using water, producing paper in different sizes, textures, and widths to offer more flexibility and versatility.

This on-site processing minimises waste and mitigates environmental impact. We expect to see future models of Paper Lab take the print industry by storm, becoming more cost-effective and accessible, so watch this space!


About Insight Systems & Our Commitment To Sustainability

At Insight Systems, we’re dedicated to protecting the environment through sustainable initiatives not only for ourselves but for our customers, too.

We support and partner with businesses that follow sustainable methods to pave the way for future generations. Our main goal is to help customers switch to more sustainable printing solutions and reap the benefits.

Learn more about our commitment to the environment.


Additional Resources

Explore sustainable printing with Insight Systems.

The Advantages of Sustainable Printers for Education.
Paperless Initiatives: Document Management Systems To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.
How To Minimise Carbon Emissions.
The Science Behind Epson’s Heat Free Printers.



Ultimately, printing and carbon emissions are interconnected, but so too are sustainability and responsibility. By acknowledging the environmental impact of our printing habits and taking proactive steps to reduce it, we can make a tangible difference. Whether it’s embracing digital alternatives, partaking in reforestation projects, choosing eco-friendly printers and paper, or optimising printing practices, every action counts towards building a more eco-friendly and sustainable future.


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