UW News

October 7, 2010

Two sides to this story: Save paper with double-sided copying

UW leaders are hoping the campus community will be saying “make mine a double” this fall, but not at the coffee counter or the local bar. It’s the copy machine they’re concerned about. Sometime in October, departments will receive a visit from their copy machine vendor asking if the default setting on the machines can be changed to two-sided.

It’s all about saving paper. Last year the state Legislature passed House Bill 2287, mandating state agencies to reduce copier and printer paper consumption by 30 percent beginning July 1, 2010, and to use 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. The UW officially switched to 100 percent recycled content paper in all copy centers in 2006, and departments have been encouraged to go that way too, especially after the law was passed. (See our story here.)

Reducing paper use by 30 percent is a little different story, since the law did not specify how that was to be accomplished. To support the law and assist with the UW’s commitment to sustainability, UW Finance & Facilities created the Paper Conservation Project Team and asked its members to make a plan. The switch to two-sided copying is part of that plan.

“The move to double-sided copying and printing can have a huge impact,” said Katy Folk-Way, assistant director of Creative Communications and leader of the Paper Conservation Project Team. “For example, the Creative Communications Department defaulted its building’s copiers and printers to two-sided in April. The paper use dropped by more than 30 percent even though the number of impressions remained constant.”

Folk-Way emphasizes that the switch to double-sided default is not a mandate. “We recognize that some departments will not be able to make the switch because of the nature of their work,” she said. “But however many people we can get on board, it will make a difference.”

She pointed out that even if a machine is defaulted to double-sided, one-sided can always be selected for individual printing jobs when necessary.

In addition to the double-sided initiative, the Paper Conservation Project Team has created a website with best practices for reducing paper use. Find it here.

During the October campaign, vendors will provide stickers to be placed on copy machines to inform users that double-sided is the default. Questions about the two-sided defaults can be sent to savepapr@uw.edu.