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 user 2007-11-21 at 1:55:00 pm Views: 46
  • #21285

    Rushing to paint printers green
    companies are under attack as more people become concerned about global
    warming and toxic pollution.The solution? “Printer Vendors Need to
    Greenwash Their Image.”

    unfortunate headline was the theme of an e-mail newsletter this morning
    from Lyra Research, a well-respected firm that tracks the digital
    imaging industry.Apparently the writer didn’t realize or care that
    “greenwashing” is a negative term. It describes how companies aiming to
    appeal to treehuggers are painting a green face, without necessarily
    cleaning up their act.Picky consumers detest this trend, which makes it
    nearly impossible to tell which companies walk the green walk instead
    of merely spouting a green talk. Earlier this decade, greenwashing
    wasn’t so insidious because most claims of eco-friendliness were made
    by small enterprises, like, say, your local weaver of organic hemp
    hacky sacks.But now that the world’s biggest corporations aim to appear
    green–sincerely or cynically–it’s easy to be fooled by
    multimillion-dollar public relations campaigns.This year, printer
    hardware is expected to contribute 1 million tons of solid waste in
    this country alone, while pulp and paper companies are the
    fourth-largest toxic polluters of water, according to Lyra.

    Lyra newsletter asked, “What can the industry do to prevent an attack
    by environmental groups and create a better image for itself?”
    start, the industry could gain some friends by reworking its razor
    cartridge model of ink replacement. I learned quickly–through
    reviewing printers for CNET–how much people hate that the cost of ink
    and toner quickly exceeds the price of the printer itself. Vendors
    insist that people use their premium-price, branded inks or suffer
    crummy-looking pages. And disposing of cartridges is a pain, even if
    you’re organized enough to mail them in or bring them to stores, such
    as Walgreen’s, for reuse.

    Also, how about better tech support
    and repair? Fixing gadgets should be no harder than taking a cracked
    heel to the shoe cobbler. The tech industry overall should make
    better-quality, longer-lasting hardware. A printer that cranks out one
    page faster per minute than last season’s model is not efficient. A
    printer that lasts but a year and costs more to fix than replace is not
    sustainable.Yes, people at HP and most other printer companies have
    made sincere efforts to establish responsible recycling programs.
    They’ve also made more models Energy Star efficient, experimented with
    corn-based plastic and modular components, and made it easier to print
    on two sides of a page to reduce paper waste. You might even argue that
    personal photo printers are kinder to the planet than traditional lab

    Still, what’s the secret sauce in all that
    proprietary ink and toner? Materials safety data sheets that companies
    are required by law to report do not detail the little-tested toxicity
    of these chemical cocktails. The information is limited largely because
    American laws regulating potentially dangerous chemicals are
    notoriously weak.It took independent testing by an Australian lab to
    root out potentially cancerous, asthma-inducing ingredients in laser
    toner.I don’t want to breathe in that noxious dust at my desk, and I
    certainly don’t want to breathe in the hot air of greenwashing. Let’s
    hope that tech companies boast of small successes in moving toward
    sustainability without getting ahead of themselves.