Duplex Printing Reduces Waste, Saves Money

Everyone with a pulse knows that the economy is in a mess and you don’t have to have been paying close attention to the financial news to know that things might get worse before they get better. So we here at TheGreenRegister.com have been looking for ways to help you save. Save resources, save money, save the planet.

In this latest installment of our Sustainable Tip Of The Day we focus our attention, and hopefully yours, on something that, at first blush, doesn’t seem to be a big deal to many people. But waste is always a big deal and reducing it is a sure-fire way to save money.

We’re talking about printing on both sides of the paper. While many, if not most, printing jobs can be printed on both sides of the sheet, U.S. workers only do so on about 15% of their projects. This means that half of the paper is wasted most of the time, (see the Printing Facts below for some startling statistics on paper waste).

Before we get to the heart of our discussion about the cost savings of printing on both sides of a sheet of paper, also called duplex printing or duplexing, let’s consider some basic facts about the role of paper in the workplace. Begin with this: the average workplace is addicted to copy paper. In fact, according to Reduce.org:

  • The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
  • The United States alone, which has less than 5% of the world’s population, consumes 30% of the world’s paper.
  • Over 40% of wood pulp goes toward the production of paper.
  • Printing and writing paper equals about one-half of U.S. paper production AND,
  • The costs of using paper in the office can run 13 to 31 times the cost of purchasing the paper in the first place!


In case you’re only skimming this article, (shame on you), let me hit that last point again – If a ream of paper costs five dollars, the actual cost to use those 500 sheets is somewhere between $65 and $155. The actual cost of using paper in the office is computed by considering not only the price of the paper but storage, printing, postage, disposal, and recycling costs as well.

You don’t have to have a degree in mathematics to see that the potential for savings is staggering. In fact, the benefits of duplex printing are extremely attractive even without consideration of its environmental benefits which are considerable.

The Device

The device that you need for duplex printing depends on how much printing you do. Duplex printing can be accomplished by printing even numbered pages first, turning them over and printing odd numbered pages on the back of the sheets on any printer.

However, in an office environment or if you do a lot of printing at home, this would become cumbersome pretty quickly. In either case investing in a duplex-capable printer will save time as well as money.

The Savings


While all businesses can save money by using duplex printing, the reduction in total printing costs depends upon the amount of printing involved and the amount of printed materials which are mailed, stored, recycled, etc.

Purchasing a duplex-capable printer will cost an additional $350 to $500 on the front end but the savings on the actual cost of paper use as noted above will allow a business of 10-20 employees to recoup the additional cost in a year or less.

As an example of what is possible, Reduce.org reports that “Citigroup, a large financial services company, determined that if each employee used double-sided copying to conserve just one sheet of paper each week, the firm would save $700,000 each year.” What if each employee could manage to save two… or three sheets per week?

I don’t know about you but if I was responsible for the bottom line at Citigroup, I’d consider that a substantial savings . And I would insist on having all of Citigroup’s printers set to default to duplex printing.

One more example on a smaller scale (from the Natural Resources Defense Council):

In 2005, the EPA Region 10 offices (in the Northwest United States) made a concerted effort to reduce paper use. Through a variety of initiatives including default double-sided printing and collection of scrap paper for reuse, the office cut paper consumption by 30 percent, yielding an annual savings of $49,000.


While duplex printing at home won’t have the same kind of impact, financially or environmentally that it will in an office environment, it can still reduce your cost of printing by about 50%. In today’s turbulent economy we have to cut back where we can and a lot of small savings can add up.

Household printing projects like homework assignments, driving directions, recipes, sports wagering information (for entertainment purposes only of course) , work emails, etc., can easily be printed on both sides of the paper.

Not only will that save paper, which saves trees, which saves emissions, which saves our planet, but it will ultimately save you money as well. And when it’s time to throw those papers away, there will be less waste to deal with too, although hopefully you are recycling which further benefits the environment.

The bottom line is that duplex printing will reduce your paper consumption which, in turn, will improve your bottom line no matter the scale of your printing projects.

Printing Facts

Here are some interesting facts about printing and paper consumption from printgreener.com.

  • The average cost of a wasted page is 6 cents.
  • The average employee prints six wasted pages per day. That’s 1,410 wasted pages per year.
  • The average U.S. office worker prints 10,000 pages per year.
  • In 2004, the United States used 8 million tons of office paper (3.2 billion reams). That’s the equivalent of 178 million trees.
  • The United States is the world’s largest producer and consumer of paper. Per capita, U.S. paper consumption is more than six times greater than the world average.
  • In the United States, enough office paper is used each year to build a 10-foot-high wall that’s 6,815 miles long. That’s more than the distance from New York to Tokyo.
  • 40% of the world’s industrial logging goes into making paper, and this is expected to reach 50% in the near future.
  • Global paper products consumption has tripled during the past three decades and is expected to grow by half again before 2010.
  • World demand for paper is growing faster than for other wood products. Worldwide paper consumption is predicted to double by 2020.

by Jeff Whitaker

4 Responses to Duplex Printing Reduces Waste, Saves Money

  1. Amber Jewelry Reply

    May 17, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I went over this site and I think you have a lot of great information, saved to fav (:.

  2. Joel Reply

    July 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm


    Thank you for compiling this information.

    Do you have the references for the data you gathered? I would like to use this information in an ongoing cost reduction initiative at our business but need to be able to cite the data for management as they don’t seem to trust my 20+ years experience in the IT industry.

    Thank you kindly!

    • Ryan Reply

      July 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      No problem. The stats that we quote in the story can be found at printgreener.com and reduce.org. If you have any more questions please let us know

      -The Green Register Team

  3. pozycjonowaniestronwww Reply

    March 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I have been examinating out a few of your posts and i must say nice stuff. I will surely bookmark your website.

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