Top Green IT Enterprises of 2009

Aramark cuts print waste with better devices, software

In the business world, it's not unusual to find scores of documents abandoned in printers or copiers, or else tossed in a nearby recycling bin. Yet the financial and environmental cost of all that wasted paper and those expensive ink cartridges can be substantial. Then there's all the power consumed by outdated and excessive single-function machines: printers, copiers, scanners, and faxes.

Aramark, a professional services company, found itself with hundreds of devices at four of its offices in Philadelphia and Downer's Grove, Ill. Many of the machines were old, inefficient, and incapable of dual-sided printing. Moreover, an abundance of the machines were personal printers, which are wasteful but necessary for security purposes since employees sometimes have to print documents containing sensitive data, and it's more secure to do so at one's desk than on a remote machine where the hard copies can find their way into the wrong hands.

The company recognized that it was time for a new print program to address several needs. "The inspiration was financial and environmental," says David Kaufman, CIO of Aramark's global food and facility services businesses. "We wanted to reduce cost, waste, and the number of support calls to the IT support desk."

The company succeeded in achieving its goals by retiring old stand-alone single-function printers with a reduced number of multifunction devices from Konica Minolta and networked printers from Hewlett-Packard. The company responsibly recycled the old machines through Redemtech.

The move lowered Aramark's electricity bill because the new machines are more energy-efficient than their predecessors. Moreover, there are fewer machines overall, which further reduced electricity consumption. Finally, all the multifunction devices can be powered down from a single remote location.

Additionally, the new machines have helped the company reduce paper and toner consumption in several ways. They offer dual-sided printing; plus, they allow users to scan and share electronic files rather than having to print out hard copies to distribute. Also, admins can remotely adjust printing quality so that machines use less toner.

As for the security concerns, Aramark opted for machines and print-management software that can require employees to enter a PIN before they can retrieve printouts from a machine. (This, too, can reduce paper waste, as it ensures that a printout doesn't end up abandoned because an employee forgets to collect it.)

The reduction in the number of machines was relatively modest. Aramark has thus far gone from 902 printers to 773, although more machines will be phased out down the road. Still, the overall savings have added up quickly. Aramark says it has reduced paper consumption by 200,000 sheets per year and toner purchases by 20 percent. All told, the company estimates $35,000 in annual savings on paper, ink, and electricity. On top of that, support calls for printer issues have decreased by 14 percent.

As with many IT initiatives, Aramark's managed print program required acceptance and participation from its 2,000 users, which, Kauffman says, was the biggest challenge: "Many Aramark employees were accustomed to individual or personal printers."

IT made sure users were fully trained to take advantage of the equipment's new features, such as dual-sided printing, scan-to-e-mail, and secure printing. IT also highlighted the environmental benefits and cost savings. On top of the education and training, the company ran a couple of contests to increase interest and to demonstrate the benefits of the multifunction devices. For example, employees submitted responses by scanning their answers and sending them via e-mail.

"We learned that explaining the business case and the green aspects made people much more accepting of the new processes," says Kauffman.

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