How to be a 'green' printer

Regular printer user and want to do your bit for the environment? Here's some top tips for how you can reduce your carbon footprint.

We're quite into our green printing here at INKredible – it makes sense, right? Thing is, there's a bit of a perception that printing is an energy-sapping process – don't printers guzzle a lot of ink and use a fair bit of electricity?

Well, not really. Not if you use your loaf anyway. In fact, going green when it comes to printing is perfectly possible. Here's a few ideas to get you started.


How to be a 'green' printer

Duplex printing

Why not think about using both sides of the page? Sounds obvious, but it's amazing how many people simply don't bother. OK – it won't work for everything but in some cases, like for work and university assignments, it will actually make your prints look a lot better.

The vast majority of modern printers now come with built-in duplex printing options, so you've simply no reason not to. You'll cut the amount of paper you use in half.

Recycle

We all know how easy it is to recycle printer paper, whether at home or in the office, but did you know you can also recycle your printers, ink and toner cartridges, too? Yes, it's perfectly possible. There are lots of companies out there that will do it for you, some will collect and some ask you to post them off.

Recycling your bits in this way also helps around the home – because you won't have any old printers and ink cartridges clogging up the garage!


Does everything have to be top quality?

For some things, it will be necessary to really put your printer to work and use colour ink and lengthy print runs.

But when your prints don't have to be top-drawer, why waste quality ink you simply don't need to? If it's just something you'll be using as a draft, do you really need to go the whole hog and have all the ink levels set right to the top? Probably not.

And while we're on the theme, exploring what your printer can really do is also a good idea. Look a little deeper into the options and you'll find there are a whole host of things your machine can do.

While these practices are undoubtedly good for the environment, think also how much money they'll help you save too.

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LVCR: An update

Guerney's beautiful shoreline isn't the only thing attracting big business to the island.

In our blog post on Thursday we spoke a bit about Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) and how it could soon change.

We explained it all in the post but to give you an ever so brief summary: LVCR is a tax relief that allows – or, ahem, has allowed, firms in the Channel Islands to export some goods exempt from VAT.

This means you could buy a DVD or CD from one of the retailers and find it a little cheaper than a UK retailer.


Lots of businesses – and the government too – think the tax relief is unfair and a long campaign to end it reached the High Court yesterday where a decision was finally made.

Well, we kept our beady little eyes on proceedings and we've just logged on to give you an update. And as planned, the tax relief on low-value items will be scrapped from April 1st, a court has ruled. It means as of April retailers that base themselves in the Channel Islands – Jersey and Guernsey – will no longer be able to avoid paying VAT on certain products.


As a retailer based in the UK, we support the move, which the government has been planning for some time.

It puts us on a level playing field with everyone else. Fair, no?

 

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What is LVCR and why does it matter?

Guerney's beautiful shoreline isn't the only thing attracting big business to the island.

For years firms based in the Channel Islands have been able to significantly undercut their rivals on the mainland thanks to a VAT loophole.

The UK government wants to close this loophole from April 1st, and with a judicial decision on it expected later today, we wanted to lend you a few thoughts on it.

It's called Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) and is essentially a tax relief on cheaper goods.

 

What it has meant is that retailers based in Guernsey and Jersey have been able to ship products worth £15 or less – like CDs, DVDs and, of course, printer consumables – without having to pay any VAT.

It's all part of a government effort to save at least £100 million in lost sales tax and make it fairer for UK businesses.

Play.com was the first major company to take advantage of the tax relief back in 1998, transforming in the process the shape of UK ecommerce.

 

For consumers it made perfect sense: cheaper products bought over the internet. But for some time there has been growing concern from many retailers that the loophole is simply unfair, and is damaging business.

On the other hand, the governments of Jersey and Guernsey say closing the loophole would have a big impact on their economies and employment.

Last November the government reduced the LVCR threshold from £18 to £15 and from April 1st 2012, it wants it disbanded completely.

While LVCR is undoubtedly a hot topic, what most retailers are looking for is simply a level playing field.

 

We're looking for a level playing field in the online market.

"It's a very competitive market out there, and now, more than ever margins are tight," said Tom Coley, our general manager.

 

"A company shipping their products from the Channel Islands or anywhere else the LVCR applies can easily undercut us by up to 20 per cent simply because they don't have to charge VAT. This makes it very difficult for us to compete."

 

Getting the best deal for the consumer is what we're all about. We want to help you save money wherever possible – that's the ethos INKredible was built on and we work very hard to get the best deals for our customers.

 

"But when customers are coming to us saying they are going elsewhere because they've found the same product almost a quarter cheaper from a company based in the Channel Islands it's quite a slap in the face," Tom said.

 

"We're not asking for preferential treatment, just a level playing field."

 

What are your thoughts on all this? Let us know. And with a decision expected later today, we'll be keeping you posted.

 




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Lasers used to remove ink from paper

Use a laser and save a tree.

Use a laser and save a tree.

That's the message coming from researchers at Cambridge University today – they've come up with an innovative technique that can remove ink from scrap paper so that it can be used again and again. 

They say the trick could reduce carbon emissions and energy usage associated with recycling paper.

Dr Julian Allwood and his team used different lasers to see if they could remove ink from paper.

Working with The Bavarian Laser Centre, the researchers set up ten lasers of varying strengths and used them on standard Canon copy paper with HP laserjet black toner - used in offices and homes all over the world.


They found ink can be removed without causing any major damage to the paper – meaning it can be reused instead of being binned, shredded or sent for recycling.

Dr Allwood thinks given the advances in laser scanning, copiers and printers, it might not be too long before these lasers are a common sight.

"What we need to do now is find someone to build a prototype," he said.

"Thanks to low-energy laser scanners and laser-jet printers, the feasibility for reusing paper in the office is there."

And there's more. The research suggests a number of other real-world implications. Reducing the use of trees is a "real possibility", it was claimed. Reusing paper could save an additional 50-80 per cent in carbon emissions. "This could represent a significant contribution towards the cause of reducing climate change emissions from paper manufacturing," Dr Allwood said.

So could the technique be coming to an office near you soon? Keep your eyes peeled folks….

 

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Storing ink cartridges – some best practice tips

 

Looking after your ink - Some 'Best Practice' tips

If you are a regular user of ink it's likely you'll have a stock of bulk products tucked away under the desk or under the stairs.

Well, perhaps. However, by giving your ink cartridges a spot of TLC you can make them last longer and ensure you get the best possible print results too.

 

One really important thing to note is that while you can expect your cartridges to last a long time, up to two years in most cases, you can prolong their longevity and keep them in tip-top condition by storing them at room temperature.

In most home or office environments, this won't be a problem at all. But if you keep your cartridges in the cellar or the garage (OK – unlikely we know, but you never know!), it might be an idea to make sure they're not exposed to damp, cold, or extreme heat (heat in the UK? Granted – not gonna happen).


What's more, store your cartridges in an upright position. Really all you need to do it make sure they aren't thrown higgledy piggledy about the place -  you could keep them upright in a cardboard box or store them in plastic totes. Also, keep them boxed up with all the packaging intact until you come to actually use them.

 

When it comes to actually using the ink cartridges, just stick them in the printer and they'll do the job, right? Well, to some extent, yes.

But there are a few things to be aware of. One thing is, simply, to treat your ink cartridge with care. If you get a paper jam and need to take out the cartridge – just do so carefully, don't rag the thing out. it's simple things like this that help to prolong the life of your cartridges.

If you're not going to be printing for a while, it's also a good idea to print something out every now and again – just to keep your cartridges ticking over in good working order.

 

Another thing: Don't interfere with the print head it could permanently damage the cartridge.

 

Do you have any best practice tips for storing ink cartridges? Let us know in the comments below.

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How can you make printer ink last longer?

The one problem with printer ink? Eventually the stuff runs out.

Annoying isn't it? There you are ready to print the last job of the day when there's a whirr and a funny plop and your printer says 'sorry, no can do'. While it's always advisable to have some back-up ink cartridges stored under the desk, some of us just aren't that seasoned, are we?

Thankfully there are ways to conserve printer ink – and it needn't cost a fortune. In fact, it needn't cost anything. 

Easiest way to save money on ink? Use less

The Basics

The first thing to ask yourself is: Do I really need to print it? It might sound a bit obvious but think about it.

Let's say you've a 40-page research document to print off for work. Do you really need all of it? How about having a quick look through, selecting the bits you actually will find useful? It's easy to highlight certain bits of text and specific page numbers when you come to print.

Similarly, when printing emails, do you really need the whole email? If it's just a small amount of text you need why not paste it into a Word document. Sounds stingy? Perhaps - but it could mean you print one page instead of two or two pages instead of four. Tot that up over the course of a year and that's a lot of ink.


Only print what you need.

Also, by using less bold text and smaller fonts you can save ink. Do you really need to use a garish, extravagant font, and does it have to be that big? Using a traditional font in small size will help you conserve ink over the long term.


Get to grips with your printer

There's a lot more to your printer than simply pressing send and letting it do its work. In fact, you'd  be surprised how advanced today's printers are and how much they can help you. 

Having a play around with your machine's settings is a really good idea. For example, you can put your printer on low quality for non-essential print jobs, switching it up to a better quality for the jobs that need it. 

Why opt for the default print setting? Delving a little deeper into the workings of your printer set-up can pay dividends.


Ignore those 'warning' messages
 

When your printer suddenly goes into panic mode and tells you you need to replace your ink cartridges, don't worry just yet. While your printer seems to be telling you that the end of the world is nigh, it's likely you'll be able to keep your ink cartridges going for some time yet.

However, that's not to say forever. It's a good idea to use a low ink warning message as a sign you need to get some new ink ordered. However, as soon as you notice any change in print quality be sure to stop printing until the cartridge has been changed to avoid damage to your printer.

 

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What does the future have in store for printing?

The gang at INKredible sat down recently for a chat about where we think printing is going to go in the years to come. As our lives are always immersed in the wonderful world of printing, ink and toner, we're quite well placed to offer our opinions!

Gone are the days of your standard black-and-white, ugly mono printers – today's machines are little whizz-bang pots of technology - so what trends can we expect to see?

Printers that look like iPads

Have you noticed how many of today's printers look like spaceships? Check out Lexmark's Genesis for a case in point.

Lexmark's Genesis Printer

In one sense, this change to make printers look like modern tech gadgets is a move on the part of printer makers to make their machines more aesthetically-pleasing and compete better with their rivals.

But if we scratch a little deeper below the surface, it's also the case that lots of these new additions offer some really functional value. Take things like central navigation screens - digital menus from where users can control all aspects of their appliance. This removes the needs for fiddly buttons and means everything you need to work your printer is in one consolidated place.

There are also things like USB ports – enabling you to pop a memory stick in your printer, access a document and print it off in a matter of seconds.

This is something we think will really develop, so that in the future printers are not merely functional machines that do a job but a central part of the printing process.



The move to wireless

The Move to Wireless

Wireless printing, while still really in its infancy, is something we think will grow and grow. Thanks to wireless technology, it's no longer necessary to have printers connected up by reams of wires to computers and workstations.

At first glance, this might seem unnecessary – who cares if you have to connect a lead up? But wireless printing offers a host of real benefits for companies and the individual consumer.

Think about it – if you can print wirelessly, you can print from almost anywhere. This allows you to work on the go – sending documents to print from other parts of the office, freeing up more time to concentrate on other tasks.

For home workers, space is often an issue, where wireless again comes in handy.




The rise of 3D

It feels like not a day goes by without 3D printing getting some kind of mention – it can apparently do almost anything, from printing house keys to replicating museum exhibits.

The process uses modelling software to 'build' 3D objects – currently, they are limited in size, but in future could be a lot bigger. While there's undoubtedly an awful lot of fanfare surrounding the technology, we can expect it to have a number of real-world uses – it could enable companies to build product prototypes and it's even been suggested it could build replica body parts.


What do you think?



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Is third-party ink and toner a false economy?

Now hold the front page folks. 

We've just come across something by Brother that claims customers should "beware of the hidden costs" of compatible ink and toner supplies. Now, as suppliers of such products, you won't be surprised to hear that our ears more than pricked up a little.

 

The firm has released a report that claims switching to third-party inkjets could be a false economy. Well they would say that – after all, they want you to buy their original products!

 

In all seriousness though – and we're not really having a dig – we'd just like to defend our corner. Brother says buying third-party products throws up a whole host of problems. 

These include leakages – it claims some compatible cartridges deliver a low percentage of ink – compatibility issues, and problems with yield variation. It also suggested that using compatibles can cause damage to printers, as the ink often dries out, damaging the print head.

 

Now, it's always important to have an open mind – which is why we reckon compatible cartridges are more than capable of being up to the job. A quick look at our customer testimonials confirms this. "The service is Inkredible," reckons Mr David Alfred Smith (thanks David) and while Laura Page admits to having problems with non-original cartridges in the past she writes: "But this is A1 so far. Will definitely be buying from you again, and oh, the price, how could I not mention, is FANTASTIC."

 

If you've questions about compatibility issues or how compatible or remanufactured ink and toner might affect your printers, we're completely open – you can check out our FAQs or contact us

And we've also put together a handy little guide that talks about the difference between remanufactured, compatible and refilled cartridges. You can read it here

What do you think about the debate? We'd love to hear from you.

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Our plans for the future

We're not just stopping with the recent changes we've made to our website folks – no, this is part of a wider effort to completely transform everything we offer.

That's right – we've lots more planned for the months to come. Here's an idea of what you can look forward to in the future:

A reward scheme

Loyalty schemes are all the rage! And why not – in these straightened economic times, shoppers are increasingly looking for a bit of added value when they buy their bits and bobs.

Our reward scheme will earn you reward points when you shop, by referring your friends and family to us and by sending back empty inks for recycling.

You can use the reward points to put toward future payment for orders – sounds good, huh?

Support section

Printer playing up? Have a question about compatible ink cartridges?

We're going to launch a dedicated, in-depth support section that will be packed full of tutorials, guidance features, hints and tips and how to's.

Whatever it is you're wondering about – a query about a warranty, what to think about when buying a printer – we'll be adding a variety of useful pieces in there as we go on – a one-stop-shop for all your queries!

Forum

The INKredible gang is really excited about this -  a community hub for our customers to come together and chat!

It'll be a place you can share knowledge with one another, passing tips and best practice. We've designed it primarily to act as an information portal when our support team isn't available, but we also hope it'll encourage plenty of interesting chat between our customers too!

Speak soon

The INKredible team

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What to think about when buying a printer

Changes to the printer market over the last few years mean the market is now filled with a heady variety of sophisticated printers.

One good thing about this is that the cost of printers has come down significantly – it's now possible to get hold of a capable multi-function machine for as little as £50.

But the sheer range of appliances available can make it difficult to make an informed choice when it comes to choosing the printer that really suits your needs.

One of the most important things anyone thinking about buying a printer should do is consider the 'total cost of ownership' – i.e. how much it will really cost you to buy a printer – so not just the one-off purchase but over the long term.

After your initial outlay, you'll also have consumables – like ink and toner cartridges and photo paper – that you'll need to buy (dependent on how regular a printer user you are).

Tying in with this, another important consideration is what you will actually need to use your printer for. If you're a student, for example, it's likely you'll be best off with a pretty basic mono machine – for your black-and-white print jobs.

A small business might want something with Wi-Fi capabilities and the like for remote working and a professional photographer will require a printer that's specifically tailored to prints.

Working this out will influence how much you decide to spend on your printer. The more jobs you'll be doing, the more consumables you'll need to buy.

It's all about working out what is best for you. The main thing is not to spend a fortune on a printer only to find that it's packed full of features that you won't actually use.

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