Technology companies are under growing pressure to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by making products that save energy and build more sustainable business models.
Printer makers have joined the race to cut carbon emissions and save energy costs for small consumers and big corporates, with some ditching laser printing for eco-friendlier options, launching products that use zero energy when in sleep mode, and rebuilding the machines to go off automatically, if not in use.
Printer makers and sellers have been enjoying a good year in Kenya, thanks to the introduction of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) which requires pupils to print most of their schoolwork, meaning that the new products will translate to lower costs and carbon emissions. Non-production and non-disposal of printer cartridges will also save the environment.
Japanese technology company Epson is one of the firms that has moved from using Laser printers and has adopted Inkjet printers that consume less energy and are environmentally friendly.
Epson’s regional head, East and West Africa, Mukesh Bector says: “Depletion of natural resources and other environmental problems have become increasingly evident. Organisations are more aware of the challenges than ever and understand that pursuing sustainability is essential to environmental protection, economic growth, and social stability.”
Mr Bector says Epson recognises that sustainability is the key catalyst for innovation. This is why the company is changing the way people print with an alternative to cartridges and printing, which does not use heat in the process.
A simple technology switch, from laser printing to inkjet printing, means a reduction of up to 83 percent in energy consumption, as a result of Epson’s heat-free technology.
Fewer consumables in its EcoTank cartridge-free printers mean huge savings in plastic waste, with one set of ink bottles being the equivalent of 79 ink cartridges, saving around 1.6 million tonnes of plastic-based consumables through the sale of more than 70 million EcoTank printers worldwide.
“Technology innovations, such as PaperLab — an inhouse paper recycler, which uses virtually no water in its process — has changed the future of recycling,” said Mr Bector.
With eco-friendly products, Epson hopes to help businesses cut energy usage and save millions just by switching from laser to business inkjet printers.
“Although technology is not the ultimate solution, it has the power to increase productivity and efficiency, enable cost savings, reduce product and chemical waste, and save resources such as water,” said Krishnakumar MV, Epson regional sales manager.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) printer-maker has also adopted technologies that ensure their printers use less energy.
Benard Ingati, a senior print engineer at Compitent, which has partnered with the tech company HP, says printers have energy savers that switch off power once the machine is inactive.
“Once the printer is inactive, it will go off automatically. This helps save energy and costs for consumers,” said Mr Ingati.
When it comes to carbon emission, HP printers have waste containers that collect all toners — a powder-based print medium made from granulated plastics — ensuring that they do not pollute the environment.
“After printing, all carbon goes to the waste container or waste tank. This makes you have a clean environment,” said Mr Ingati.
He also said the company is developing new eco-friendly strategies.
Canon printers have also adopted techniques that ensure that the printer only consumes 1W of electricity in sleep mode. They have also incorporated a system that enhances melting characteristics hence enabling the quick fusion of heat. A lower temperature means lower energy consumption and reduced cost for similar tasks.
Technology firms are also making products that last longer, while others have recycling programmes to properly dispose of used printers and other forms of e-waste, while others are shifting to more low-carbon materials in manufacturing.