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Desktop Printers

Photo of employee at copy machine.

Most employees in the General Services Agency use the multi-function devices instead of desktop printers, which reduces waste and saves taxpayer dollars.

In 2011, the Alameda County General Services Agency (GSA) piloted a desktop printer reduction project to reduce waste and save taxpayer dollars. The goal was to transition staff away from resource intensive personal desktop printers to the highly efficient and cost effective multi-function devices (MFDs) that print, copy, and scan. The project was deemed successful with a 70% reduction in personal printers and an estimated cost savings of $7,000 annually from reduced ink cartridge purchases, maintenance, and equipment replacement costs. Here is how the GSA technology staff implemented the project.

Build the Business Case

Working with our multi-function device lease vendors, we built the business case for the project by highlighting the fiscal, environmental, and health benefits of the project:

  • Cost reduction of 10 to 15 cents per page printed
  • Waste reduction and cost savings by eliminating the need for high cost replacement ink cartridges
  • Energy savings by eliminating redundant equipment
  • Health benefits due to more opportunities for employees to walk and move about during the work day
  • Paper waste reduction and cost savings when rolled out in conjunction with a paper use reduction campaign

Get Executives to Show Support and Leadership

The GSA executive team and department heads voiced support for the effort through email and one-on-one communication with employees. In some cases, they also eliminated their own personal desktop printer in order to lead by example. This was important because some employees felt their printer was a job necessity or an added benefit that was being taken away from them. Top-down support was key to overcoming these issues.

Give Employees Time to Adjust and Training on Key Features

Employees were notified of the coming changes several weeks before implementation. Technology staff visited employees to reset their default setting to the multi-function device so they could get used to using it before their personal printer was removed. They also posted instructional information at the MFDs and provided specific training, as needed, on using the new technology, including secure printing, scanning, and duplex printing. (Find extensive details and templates about the complementary copy paper waste reduction campaign here.)

Make the Switch (And Sell, Donate, or Recycle the Equipment Removed)

When equipment was removed, it was transferred to the GSA Property & Salvage department, which handles surplus County property to the highest and best use. While personal desktop printers are surplus to the County, they may be invaluable to a family or small business looking for high quality used goods.

Promote Results and Expand Pilot

With a 70% reduction in desktop printers, the printer reduction pilot conducted by GSA was deemed a success. For those last few desktop printers that remain, the plan is to retire them when the repair cost exceeds 1/3 of the printerís sticker price. To wrap up the project, GSA technology staff made sure to thank participants and let them know how they helped reduce County costs and improve our environmental footprint.

The pilot was so successful that it will be implemented countywide through our multi-agency green IT committee. Agencies will be asked to implement a desktop printer reduction effort and measure their success. These efforts will provide win-win results: improved environmental footprint for County operations, and better fiscal stewardship of public funds.