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Pursuit of Sustainability

The education sector has huge print requirements from exercise books, textbooks, prospectuses, posters, promotional materials, and more… the question is how to make printing sustainable.

In an interview with GESS, Dr Hamad Odhabi, vice chancellor for administrative and financial affairs, Office of the Vice Chancellor – Abu Dhabi University, said: “Educational institutions that want to print sustainably should give priority to using recycled or FSC-certified paper and switch to digital resources whenever possible. They should also consider using refillable cartridges and environmentally friendly links and regularly maintain their equipment. Implementing print management software can monitor usage, and user education can promote awareness of sustainable practices. Centralizing printing with multifunction devices, building partnerships with sustainable suppliers, and embedding these practices in institutional policies can further improve sustainability. Ultimately, reducing overall print volume and questioning the need for printed materials can have a significant impact.”

Inculcating a culture of repairing replacing, segregating, and recycling waste, will go a long way in protecting our planet. To ensure printing is sustainable, buying efficient printers, printing only as required, double-sided printing, or reduced margins, can be ways that educational institutions can make ‘green’ decisions.

Explaining the way forward Dr. Hamad added: “Educational institutions can reduce waste by establishing clear guidelines for waste disposal and prioritizing repair over replacement with on-campus repair centers. Setting up recycling and composting bins, digitizing resources, and purchasing in bulk can further reduce waste. Engaging the community through awareness campaigns, incentives, and workshops emphasizes the importance of sustainability. Donation systems, e-waste collection drives, and reuse centers facilitate recycling and reuse, while partnerships with local institutions enhance waste management efforts. Regular audits and water-saving initiatives such as rainwater harvesting also contribute to a holistic approach to sustainability.”

Educators are increasingly conscious of their social responsibility to instill planet-friendly practices into their wards from a young age.  Along with encouraging water and energy efficiency, elimination of plastic, and recycling of waste, more attention is now being paid to making printing more environmentally friendly. With the humungous amounts of books, exam papers, and certificates being constantly printed; every decision in the direction of sustainability has the capacity to create massive ripple effects.

Giving further insight, Marcus Doo, managing partner, of Mood Group said, “Renewable power as a way of clean energy as well as reducing operating overheads is an important pathway on the road to sustainability. For example, bottled drinking water company Mai Dubai has covered its whole factory roof with solar panels.  Even printing and packaging organizations have started taking steps to make their factories energy-efficient, while also using MIS or ERP systems for faster makeready and reducing mistakes.

On-demand printing in educational institutions reduces the need to maintain inventory drastically while remaining relevant through the years. The curriculum is developing all the time and by not having excess textbooks printed, we create a lean model which can adapt to change.

For example, I was recently reading about a probe being sent to an asteroid that will be traveling for 6 years – now such information would not be included in the previous edition of the textbook. Print on demand would make it very convenient for the digital production center to merely change the pdf files and print the updated version as required.”

Many manufacturers like Canon, Xerox, and Konica Minolta among others have introduced Print on Demand book printers into the market which are suitable for educational institutions.   No longer is sustainability an option, it is a way of life.

By Shilpa Jasani