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How much is a New Zealand business printing?

Paper in the business world was supposed to have effectively disappeared decades ago. But that didn’t happen.

The Business Week writer who famously predicted in 1975 that paper use would decline sharply due to the advent of personal computers, couldn’t have been more wrong. 

To be fair, the prediction did look accurate for a while. Paper use in offices declined briefly with the growing use of computers, but then business printing rose sharply and continued to grow.

One of the factors that contribute to the large volume of pages printed, is how easy it has become with modern printers. When people used typewriters or wrote by hand, they produced one sheet at a time, painstakingly. Perhaps by using carbon paper, they could produce a copy or two. But these days, once the document exists, it can be reprinted with a single mouse click. That 120-page report? One click and you have a copy. Need seven copies to give to the board? Just as easy.

Boosted by the new ease of producing printed documents, paper usage in business continued to grow for decades.

Just consider these figures from international researchers: According to Gartner, companies tend to use 25 per cent more paper year on year. Forrester Research estimates that one billion photocopies are made globally every year. In America alone, office workers print or photocopy roughly a trillion pieces of paper.

According to records management company Iron Mountain, about a third of businesses in the US are still using more paper year on year. The fact that many documents exist in digital format first, apparently has little impact—they still get printed. For instance, three quarters of invoices a company receives in digital format then get printed.

The situation in New Zealand

Statistics released by the Ministry of Primary Industries in New Zealand suggest that our country followed the international trend for business printing. Paper use in the country peaked in 2008, and has trended slightly downward since. The statistics include all kinds of paper and paperboard except newsprint, so it’s not entirely clear how much of that is paper for writing and printing.

However, the findings of our 2017 Business Printing Survey suggest that the amount of printing done by New Zealand businesses is showing no sign of slowing down. Some people working in local businesses print more than 1,000 pages per week.

Even after removing these outliers from the data, the survey still found that the average employee prints 94 pages per week.

Some people working in local businesses print more than 1,000 pages per week.

This average is boosted by a small number of people who print substantial quantities. For most people, the number is lower, with 64 per cent of respondents saying they print fewer than 50 pages per week.

The median number of pages printed by employees is 40 per week (i.e. if we look at the number of pages printed from least to most, 40 pages is right in the middle). So a business with five employees creates 200 new printed pages per week, and one with 12 people on staff creates about 2,000 new pages of documentation every month.

Businesses that aren’t sure of their monthly print volumes, can get an idea of how much they’re likely to print by multiplying the number of staff by 168. (4.2 weeks x 40).

That figure, incidentally, will probably come as a surprise to nearly three quarters of business owners and managers. In the Brother survey, 73 per cent of business owners and managers admitted to not knowing how many documents their business prints in a month, while 60 per cent have no visibility of their monthly print spend awareness. An unexpected statistic, considering that optimising cost efficiencies are generally a key driver for most business operations.

The good news is there are ways you can uncover your print costs and get a handle on your print management. With programmes such as Brother Managed Print Services, Brother will work with you to review your print operation, including looking at the hidden costs of printing —the amount of staff time that goes into dealing with printers, and the loss of productivity this entails. They will then provide a recommendation on your print set up to maximise efficiencies and reduce costs.

To find out more about the true importance of business printing in New Zealand, check out our free ebook.

 Print and Tech ebook download

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