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Posted on by Chris

Having an (environmental) impact!

We all spend a lot of time talking about environmental issues here in the office. I suppose partly because global warming is the “topic of the month” (really century!), and because we work on software designed initially with an environmental objective – that is cutting down on paper!

We find that PaperCut helps reduce an organization’s printing volume in a number of ways:

  1. Monitoring: If users know they are being monitored and compared to other users, they tend to change their behavior.
  2. Restrictions: Quotas, budgets, and limits on documents sizes help to reduce usage by addressing extremes.
  3. Cost: If users pay for printing out of their own pocket (say in schools), they tend to always think before they print!

The next release of PaperCut will include a 4th method – that is, appealing to the user’s environmental conscience. PaperCut will now provide the user with information about the environmental impact of their printing.

PaperCut Environmental Impact Reporting

Users can now view their impact in real-time. The figures present the impact in a number of forms:

  • Trees: The percentage of a tree (or trees) used to make the paper.
  • Carbon: The amount of CO2 (green house gas equivalent) that was released in the process of manufacturing and delivering the paper.
  • Energy: Represents the impact in terms of the equivalent impact of running a 60W bulb for a period of time.

This has been one of my pet projects for the past few days. We hope that most sites will leave this option enabled and by appealing to a user’s environmental conscience we can cut paper even further!

When I next have some spare time, I intend to add a 5th factor – appealing to the user’s competitive nature. We plan to implement a star based ranking system where the system will issue a star rating to each users. The hope is that in a school/college environment students may compete for a 5 star rating… time will tell.

Make sure you all upgrade to the latest PaperCut release and get into an environmental mode!

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  • Amy

    That is a very cool idea. How did you calculate those figures?

  • Chris

    Good question. All our calculations are documented and referenced in the manual. The manual for the pending release is not yet live, but when it is, you’ll find it at:

    In short, we’ve used figures provided in scientific reports produced by University of California at Berkeley, and the U.S. EPA office. The constants are also configurable so if you’re using 100% recycled paper, we suggest some modifications.

  • Reid

    When and in what version do you expect this to be available?

    Good stuff, as always.

  • We completed the final build for the PaperCut NG 7.3 release and uploaded it last night. Assuming all goes with final testing and review we’ll be making this public today. Keep an eye out of the release history page.

  • Damian Green

    Excellent idea! This will improve awareness about sustainability at school.

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