New print allotments aim to make computer labs greener

January 12, 2010 | News, UToday
By Jon Strunk

This week, many students will begin to notice pop-up notifications on University computers as they print materials.

The notifications are part of a new University-wide sustainable printing pilot project that gives every student the ability to print up to 1,200 pages per semester free of charge. As they print, students will see a running total of their semester’s worth of printing and be given an additional chance to accept or cancel print jobs.

Dr. Godfrey Ovwigho, vice president for information technology/chief information officer, said the new limits were put in place as part of the University’s drive to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

“This allotment is certainly not intended to limit the reasonable amount of printing that we recognize as essential for students’ educational activities,” Ovwigho said. “But we are trying to work with our students to take these steps to reduce printing waste, which runs counter to our commitment to environmental sustainability.”

The allowance is made possible by new print management software that has been installed in most of the computer labs across the University. When students sign on to computers with their UTAD account information and attempt to print, they will see a notification about how much of the allotted 1,200 pages they have remaining.

Tom Trimble, associate director of the Student Union and chair of UT’s Go Green Work Group, said a recent recycling study the University conducted with Lott Industries has shown that from the middle of November until Dec. 22, UT recycled 14,100 pounds (or about 350,000 sheets) of used, discarded white paper.

“That 14,000 pounds doesn’t include printed materials that were thrown in the trash, taken home and thrown in the trash, shredded or filed away,” Trimble said. “So overuse of paper is an issue, and this printing limit is one way that we can work together to try to address it.”

Trimble said other initiatives, such as a competition between area universities called Recycle Mania, will launch soon.

If students need to print more than 1,200 pages in any given semester, they will need to make arrangements with their college’s technology director, Ovwigho said.

Trimble offered tips to help students reduce the impact of their printing habits:

• Print only one or two drafts of your writing assignments. Printing each time you change a comma can be costly to your print limit and the environment.

• Don’t print an entire Web page just to remember its location or one portion of the information on the page. E-mail yourself a link; it’s easier, quicker and more sustainable.

• Use scrap paper whenever possible.

• If making copies, use both sides of the paper to cut your impact in half.

Though this is a new University-wide initiative, several colleges, including the College of Pharmacy and the College of Engineering, have had student printing limits in place for some time.

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