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Tips for more sustainable printing

Printing is an area where almost everyone can make a difference to the environmental impact of the University - saving paper, electricity, waste and also money- through some easy steps given below:

Image of a printer featuring a recycling logo.

Print fewer documents

Reducing printing generally reduces the use of paper, energy and money.

Share copies of printouts if you can, especially longer documents.

Electronic alternatives to printing are available, but remember that electronic working also has some impact, particularly the embodied energy of multiple computers or laptops.

Reduce paper usage

Windows 7 duplex settings screenshot

Reducing your use of paper is often the easiest way to cut the impact of your printing.

Use Print Preview before printing, to check the document looks how you want it.

Use duplex (double-sided) printing. This can normally be permanently set in the printer settings in your computer. For example, if you are using Windows 7 and an HP Printer:

  • Click on Start, Devices and Printers
  • Right-click on your printer and choose Printing Preferences.
  • Click the Finishing tab, and then tick the box that says Print on Both Sides.
  • Click OK.

Please consult the owner of the printer, and your school technician or Local Computing Representative, on the use of duplex printing.

In the libraries and IT rooms, the Multifunctional Printing and Photocopying Devices (MFDs) are set to print duplex as default.

If you don't have a duplex printer and need multiple copies of the document, you could print single sided and duplex photocopy the document.

Print only the pages you need within the document. For example, in Microsoft Office and Adobe Reader dialogue boxes, you can choose to print a range of pages or just the current page.

You can even print several pages per side of paper. For example, in the Microsoft Office print dialogue box, under Zoom, set Pages Per Sheet to 2. However the text size will be smaller and will not be readable by everyone, so this would not be suitable for sharing documents e.g. submitted essays, meeting papers etc.

Use more sustainable paper

Recycled paper usually has lowest impact. However some brands of recycled paper don't print, bind or duplex as well, so it's important to use the right paper for the job.

Paper from more sustainable sources, such as FSC-certified paper, has reduced impact.

Reduce electricity

Switch IT equipment off overnight and on weekends, but please first consult the equipment owner, your Local Computing Representative or a local technician first.

Installing a plug-in timer switch can remove the need to remember to switch it off by hand. These can be bought for a few pounds from most DIY stores.

Reduce toner

Some printers have the option to print draft quality, which can reduce the use of toner. If using Windows 7 and an HP printer:

  • Click on Start, Devices and Printers
  • Right-click on your printer and choose Printing Preferences
  • Click Print Quality or Paper / Quality 
  • Look under the Print Quality area - if available this option may be labelled as FastDraft, Faster Printing or Reduced Resolution

Reduce equipment and its impact

Sharing a printer will avoid the need to buy one, and so will reduce manufacture, shipping and disposal energy, reduce raw materials usage and waste, and reduce the usage of electricity.

If buying a printer, please contact your School's Local Computing Representative or technician where appropriate, for local advice and to avoid duplication of equipment.

Consider these factors in your choice of printer:

  • The ability to print duplex.
  • Energy consumption, for example, the Energy Star standard or equivalent.
  • Toner consumption - where comparing in two or more printers, a lower consumption rate will help reduce money and environmental impact.
  • A high specification inkjet printer could reduce your energy use compared to laser, and the print quality can be just as good. But it will be slower, and will likely have much higher running costs in ink and possibly support.
  • If support can be agreed, and if it offers overall good value for money, consider buying warrantied second-hand printers to avoid the need for manufacturing new printers.
Student recycling paper.

Dispose of waste appropriately

Always recycle or reuse paper rather than sending it to landfill.

For disposal of printers and other University IT and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), please see

Laser toner and inkjet cartridges can be recycled at Cathays Campus through the University's recycling scheme. Please check local arrangements at other sites.

Further advice

For school equipment, please first ask your Local Computing Representative or IT technician for advice.

You are also welcome to contact the IT Service Desk; please note, however, that there are many types of printer and we may only be able to offer general advice in some cases.

In the libraries and IT rooms, please ask the IT Support Assistant or a member of library staff  for advice.


For more information, please go to:

More sustainable Information Services, including our initiatives to reduce the impact of printing

Network printing payment support

Graphic Services

Cardiff University Environmental Golden Rules