By Dave McNally, Product Marketing Director, Dell Imaging, EMEA

Eco-friendly practises such as recycling have obvious environmental benefits, and although Europe is starting to recycle more, valuable resources are still being wasted as reusable items are sent to landfill. The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year, incurring not only up-front costs but also those for storage, copying, printing, postage and disposal. Some of these costs may be unavoidable; however if you look at those incurred when printing, there are some very small changes that businesses can make to ensure that keeping their offices green is as simple as possible, while also saving money. Here are a few top tips to help you do your bit for the environment:

Recycling programmes
Instigating a recycling programme for old printer cartridges and electronic goods will help you make room for new units, and in some cases can earn your company money. Currently only 15% of the 65 million cartridges that are sold in the UK are recycled, meaning most end up in landfills. Additionally, making recycling bins more widely available, especially near a printer can really make a difference; 80 million tonnes of paper and cardboard is used in Europe alone. According to a study from Envirowise, bad waste practises are costing UK industry at least £1.5bn a year. 70% of office waste is actually recyclable, so there really is no excuse not to be more eco-friendly. You can even think of ways that you can reuse items within the office - any paper that has been printed on one side, for example, can be reused for printing drafts or as a scrap message pad.

Fix broken equipment
StEP (Solving the E-Waste Problem) has estimated that 65.1 million tons of damaged, obsolete or simply unwanted electronic devices were discarded as e-waste in 2012. Instead of throwing broken monitors or printers in the bin you could fix them where possible, saving money and reducing the changeover time between old and new equipment.

Setting printers to sleep mode
Just as leaving the office lights on wastes electricity (and money!), so too does leaving the printer on when inactive. You can help to reduce the amount of energy taken up by setting your printer to automatically switch to sleep mode when not in use. You can also ensure that the office printers are set to print duplex in order to save paper.

Using device management software
Device management software can be used to actively turn electronic equipment off when you leave the building, saving you money as well as helping the environment. For example, in Europe, electricity costs roughly €0.07 per kilowatt hour, with the average light bulb eating up 20 watts. If a light bulb is left on over a weekend for about 52 hours we use up 4,160 watt hours of energy — equating to €0.31 down the drain. If multiple lights are left on, the amount could be double, triple or even quadruple that, mounting quickly over time. In a large office this can quickly eat up valuable resources that could be better used elsewhere.

Extending green principles
Think about how you can extend green principals to wider business activities. For instance, can you use recycled or biodegradable materials in packaging or consumer goods? These initiatives not only help the environment, but provide a sustainable option for manufacturers looking to move away from relying on plastic and metal. For example, in recent years companies, such as Dell, Coca-Cola and Carlsberg, have developed greener packaging, with Dell using bamboo mushroom and wheat straw, and Coca-Cola using barks and fruit skins. Carlsberg even developed an afterlife warranty for its eco-friendly packaging.

Set a good example
Encourage your staff to be green by leading the way. Start green activities, such as a ‘swap shop’ to give employees the opportunity to bring in and swap unwanted gadgets rather than throwing them in the bin. This means that employees still get a unit refresh while added expense and waste is avoided.