US Government Wastes $440.4 Million a Year on Printing


Image via Lexmark

I worked on an air force base for awhile and saw the ridiculous amount of paper that government employees will go through in a day, not only through mindless printing practices, but also reporting protocol that encourages putting out hard copies of thick reports that just get filed away and never looked at. That's why reading this blip from Greener Computing about government wasting over $440 million a year on printing was no surprise. Lexmark and O'Keeffe & Company have put out a report called "2009 Government Printing Report." They found that the federal government spends $1.3 billion dollars on printing every year, and almost one-third -- $440 million -- is wasteful.

From Greener Computing:

Federal employees on average print 30 pages every work day, totalling 7,200 pages printed per employee, per year. The bulk of the employees -- 92 percent -- say they print more than they need, and on average federal workers discard 35 percent of the paper they print out every day. These numbers hold true across agencies and across age ranges -- "generation Y" employees are as wasteful as Baby Boomers, despite other studies' findings that younger Americans are more environmentally aware than older generations.

Part of the trouble stems from the fact that 89 percent of federal agencies don't have formal printing policies in place, 91 percent have yet to adopt automatic duplex printing, and 95 percent don't require employees to enter personal codes to print.

Going off my personal experience, these stats ring true. Even when budget cuts didn't allow us to purchase paper and we were using old stashes of colored paper, the excessive printing didn't stop. And it's not like government employees are unaware of the wastefulness:

Seems that government employees could use some training in effective printing practices, as well as revamped requirements for reports and documentation requirements, so that $440 million in our tax dollars and so many trees don't go to waste. While hard copies of documents are necessary in some instances, we have to move into the 21st century when it comes to digital documentation.

A copy of the report is available from Lexmark.

More on Printing Practices
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Eco-Friendly Printing
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Tags: Economics | Education | Environmental Footprint | Zero Waste