University of Nottingham reports on its managed print services contract

Xerox printer cubes

Back in January of this year, Xerox announced that it had entered into a five year £9.2m agreement with the University of Nottingham to help better manage its diverse print resources.

The agreement was predicted to save the university 25% in print costs year on year, allow for the management of its printing operations from a central location, and reduce the number of printers from 3,700 devices down to 700.

In a blog post on the University of Nottingham’s Sustainable Nottingham site, Chris Carter, from IT Services posted on some of the results of the project:

The University now has:

  • devices which are ‘Energy Star’ rated, go into a low power mode after 20 minutes of inactivity and to sleep overnight automatically,
  • print jobs released only when present at the print device, thereby eliminating numerous uncollected prints,
  • printing on both sides of paper set by default,
  • paper with 75% recycled content,
  • consumables provided just in time and stocks are reduced across the University,
  • a ‘closed loop system’ where waste products are collected by Xerox, remanufactured or recycled, and put back into the supply chain.

The benefits of these changes are evident in the first 10 months of 2013 with:

  • a saving in excess of 26,000 Kg of CO2
  • more than 2 million sheets of paper – equivalent to 132 trees – being saved by purging print jobs not released for print
  • 76% of all print jobs now printed duplex

There have also been many fewer deliveries by third party suppliers to University campuses, the on-site team use an electric vehicle to deliver paper and consumables and the on-site engineer walks to many jobs rather than having field engineers visiting campus by car.

Xerox are managing out of the University all waste ink and toner cartridges through their reprocessing streams and will be working with us to ensure appropriate recycling or further use of any unused consumables.

As the rationalisation of desktop devices is completed over the coming weeks, the impact of these savings and increased sustainability of The University of Nottingham will only increase.

That’s a nice list of benefits for the university in the first 10 months of this agreement. We’re also told that this programme has saved the university approximately £2m so far, so it should achieve a return on investment within the lifetime of the project. Nice.


The kind of commitment to sustainability which Xerox demonstrates is very rare. It should be the norm.

Xerox power button

I had a phone call recently with Patty Calkins. Patty is Vice President of Environmental Health & Safety for Xerox Corp. I knew Xerox had a good environmental record but until talking to Patty, I had no idea just how good!

To put this in context, let’s take a quick look at how long they have been thinking about their environmental impact, as a company –

  • Xerox invented double-sided copying in 1969
  • In the early 1970’s Xerox introduced the 1st post consumer recycled paper products
  • In early 1980’s Xerox introduced products which automatically powered down (before Energy Star program was conceived)
  • Xerox was a founder member of Energy Star
  • In the 1980’s Xerox started rolling out its supplier requirements program
  • In early 1990’s Xerox started focussing in on the end-of-life of products in the design phase – designing in end-of-life considerations for asset re-use.
  • In late 90’s Xerox established a waste-free platform to design waste-free products, to manufacture in waste-free facilities, to enable waste free customer sites.
  • Then Xerox initiated a cartridge return program so Xerox designed cartridges for remanufacturing
  • In the early 2000’s Xerox kicked off its carbon footprint reduction program – called Energy Challenge 2012. The initial goal was for Xerox to reduce its Carbon Footprint by 10%, over its 2002 base year, by 2012, in absolute terms. By engaging the workforce, Xerox managed to shoot right by that target and hit 18% reductions by 2006. Xerox then upped it’s CO2 reduction target to to 25% by 2012. As of 2010 blew past that goal achieving 30% reductions against its 2002 baseline. Now Xerox are in the process of re-baselining because of the acquisition of Affiliated Computer Systems in early 2010. Xerox will use its 2010 figures to establish a new baseline and will announce its next carbon reduction goal.

Given such a stellar record, I shouldn’t have been surprised at how seriously they take sustainability at Xerox, but I was. Why? The phone call with Patty was incredibly information dense but I’ll try to sum up some of Xerox sustainability highlights.

Most organisations have far more print capability than they need and the print devices they have have an average utilisation rate of around 1-2%. The rest of the time, they are still drawing power, requiing maintenance, etc. To help organisations with this issue, Xerox works with their clients advising them how best to replace stand-alone fax machines, printers and copiers with shared multi-function devices. Xerox took it a step further and developed their Sustainability Calculator – which allows companies to do before and after scenarios to see potential savings and also to subsequently qualify savings from ‘right-sizing’ their print infrastructure.

Xerox Sustainability Calculator

Xerox Sustainability Calculator

Again on the customer saving front, Xerox developed solid ink technology. This is where they supply ink for printers in solid waxy cubes. The ink melts in special wells in the printer and can then be printed onto paper. The advantage of the solid ink technology is there are no ink-jet cartridges, or laser toner cartridges to dispose of/recycle, and less packaging, transport and storage. In fact, solid ink generatres 90% less waste than laser cartridges. Over the product?s entire life, it actually consumes roughly 30% less overall energy and Earth?s resources than an equivalent color laser printer according to this peer reviewed report [PDF] on the lifecycle impact of solid ink.

Then around five years ago Xerox decided to take a step back to re-examine its aims and to see what is the ‘next plateau’ to reach for in this space.

Xerox mapped it’s complete environmental footprint, identified the significant environmental aspects, went out and tested it against various stakeholders, processed the data and organised it into newer sustainability framework which now consists of 4 planks (with associated goals):

  1. Climate protection and energy with a goal to ultimately become carbon neutral (no date yet set so the top priority for now is to reduce energy consumption)
  2. Preserving biodiversity in world’s forests by driving towards a sustainable paper cycle
  3. Preserving clean air and clean water – 2 goals i) zero persistant bioaccumulative and toxic material and ii) to become water neutral and
  4. Waste prevention and management with the goal of designing waste-free products, to manufacture waste-free facilities, to enable waste-free customer sites

According to Patty, Xerox have (funded by the Xerox foundation) spent millions on research into preserving the world’s biodiversity and turning that research into action in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.

And Xerox have been extensively researching the health impacts of human exposure to toner for the last 30 years. Perhaps unsurprisingly given it is Xerox they say it is not harmful – the difference here though is that they can back up this claim with peer reviewed studies on over 30,000 people over 30 years. Hard to argue with that!

The kind of commitment to sustainability which Xerox demonstrates is very rare. It should be the norm. Hopefully the more Xerox tell their story, the more they will inspire others to shine too.

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Photo credit Craig A Rodway


I wrote a post back in January wondering…

I wrote a post back in January wondering if inkjet printer manufacturers would ever ship inkjet printers with inkwells instead of cartridges but wasn’t very optimistic about it ever coming to pass!

It turns out Xerox are doing just that with their solid ink printers! You buy the blocks of ink (no cartridge), drop them in the ‘well’ where they are liquified and printed from! Brilliant!