Sustainable UCL


The Power of Not Printing

8 September 2021

Working from home has hugely impacted the way we work and communicate. One of the biggest differences has been printing, or a lack thereof.

An image of stacks of paper in folders: 1, We've printed 30,023,283 fewer sheets of paper in the last year; 2, that's a saving of 105,113 kg of CO2; 3, It also enabled us to save 35,588,255 litres of water.

Over the last 18-24 months, Microsoft Teams meetings and lectures have become the default for most of us, reducing the need for printing handouts, agendas, and notes. We have also used SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams to collaborate on documents.

While UCL printed 34 million pages of paper via Print@UCL in 2018/19, we collectively reduced this number to only 4 million in 2020/21 - an 88% reduction. Admittedly, this reduction doesn’t include the increase in home printing on our personal devices. However, this is likely to be a comparatively low amount.

By reducing our printing we’ve saved  105,113 Kg CO2, the equivalent to the carbon absorbed in one year by 4,830 trees. As paper production requires a lot of water, we also saved over  35 million  litres  of water. This amount would fill 119,000 bathtubs.

So, as we return to our offices, ask yourself what printing is necessary and what printing can be avoided? Make digital the default and  consciously  keep using the  online tools and resources you  and your team have adopted  and learned to use, where possible.