The U.S. federal government wastes $440.4 million on printing annually, or more than $1 million each day, according to a new study from Lexmark International and O’Keeffe & Company. In total, U.S. agencies spend $1.3 billion each year on employee printing.
According to the study, this amount of waste is more than four times the amount President Obama recently called upon agency chiefs to eliminate from their administrative budgets.
The report finds, on average, each federal employee prints 30 pages each work day, totaling 7,200 pages per employee per year, of which federal employees estimate that they immediately discard 35 percent of those pages the same day they are printed. In addition, 54 percent of federal employees admit to being unaware of cost considerations when printing.
A key finding reveals that all generations share the same printing habits. Despite perceptions of environmental priorities, Gen Y employees (29 pages) print nearly the same average number of pages per day as Boomer employees (31 pages). Both generations also throw away or immediately recycle nearly the same daily percentages of pages printed — 31 percent vs. 34 percent, respectively.
Other key findings show that 89 percent of federal employees report that their agencies do not have formal printing policies in place, and 69 percent of federal employees believe that their agencies’ documentation processes could be converted from paper trails to digital trails. Sixty-four percent of respondents also admit that it would be possible for them to print less.
The key reasons for printing paper according to federal employees include the need to have signatures on paper documents, review/share documents in meetings, share hard copies of documents, and edit hard copies of documents.
The study also makes several recommendations for agencies to reduce paper printing. These include implementing a clear printing strategy, converting to digital formats, and using identification cards to monitor, track and report employee printing.