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How an Ink Subscription Service Helps the Environment

Sustainable Printing: How an Instant Ink Subscription Service Helps the Environment

Dwight Pavlovic
Reading time: 7 minutes
More than ever before, homes and businesses are doing their best to minimize their environmental impact. This has benefits beyond just helping the planet. When a product or service is more efficient, it typically leads to lower costs for you, too.
Printing is one area where you can make a big impact without sacrificing quality by choosing the HP Instant Ink subscription service for your ink. When you focus on using more sustainable ink for your printing needs, you’re doing good for both the environment and your wallet.
HP Instant Ink is a monthly ink subscription service that cuts down the negative impact associated with printing. It helps you reduce ink cartridge waste, while at the same time streamlining and simplifying the way you print.
In this article, we’ll explore how HP Instant Ink is designed to help minimize your impact on the environment and lessen your carbon footprint compared to traditional printing methods.

How printing impacts the environment

It’s important to think about energy use and environmental impact when using your printer.
  1. How does my printer affect the environment?
  2. How does my ink use affect the environment?
Manufacturing is an integral part of the environmental impact from printing, but a large portion of printing waste is tied to printer ink and empty ink cartridges, too.
According to Energy Central, an industry trade and professional group, a staggering 375 million empty ink cartridges end up in landfills every year. The unfortunate truth is most of that material waste stems from products that aren’t difficult to recycle.
But recycling empty cartridges isn’t always as simple as it should be. HP Instant Ink aims to change that with a comprehensive plan that covers the full lifecycle of every HP Original ink cartridge.

Reducing your carbon footprint with HP Instant Ink

HP Instant Ink smooths the full lifecycle of your ink cartridges.

It starts by monitoring the cartridge’s levels

The program monitors your ink and knows when you’re starting to run low before you do, so HP ships you a replacement before you run out. The package you receive includes a pre-paid envelope for you to send HP your empty cartridge for the company to recycle.

It ends with your empties heading back to re-enter the product materials supply chain

Person Recycling HP Instant Ink Cartridge
With this approach, HP Instant Ink addresses issues related to materials, packaging, recycling, distribution, and cartridge capacity. The goal is not to just make printing easier; it’s to make a significant difference in the environmental impact of your home or office printing routine.
Research suggests the gains can be substantial across several important categories. According to a 2020 study performed by Four Elements Consulting and commissioned by HP, the service minimizes much of the impact of conventional printing:

“HP Instant Ink on average decreases the carbon footprint of ink purchase and distribution by 73%, while reducing energy use by 69% and lowering water use by 70%, compared with cartridge purchase and recycling through traditional retail channels.”

Those statistics show exactly how HP Instant Ink helps subscribers shrink their total carbon footprint. It minimizes waste while reducing both energy and water usage at all stages of the cartridge’s product life.
Instant Ink Recycling
So, how can HP Instant Ink make an even bigger difference?

How HP Instant Ink can help reduce environmental impact

While HP Instant Ink has clearly shown its benefits for the environment, it’s also up to you as the subscriber to make the most of the HP Instant Ink service to reduce the impact when you use your printer.

1. Better ink capacity compared to standard cartridges

Standard ink cartridges are a major contributor to printing waste. Due to their lower capacity, you need to replace and monitor these cartridges more frequently, which not only eats into your time but adds to the overall environmental impact of printing. Plus, when you need to replace cartridges more often, you’re exposing your printer to more wear and tear.
To reduce the number of cartridges you use, HP Instant Ink only ships extra-high-capacity cartridges. In addition to lasting longer, the subscription service monitors your ink so you don’t have to worry about running low ever again.

2. Simplified recycling that improves usage

HP Instant Ink Recycling Bags
One of the biggest advantages of HP Instant Ink is its convenience. While there are certainly ways for you to recycle printer cartridges, our service makes it incredibly simple.
Whenever a new replacement cartridge arrives, it includes postage-paid HP ink recycling bags. All you have to do is pack up your empty cartridge and drop it in the mail to HP. In fact, you can even save up a couple to ship back at once if you want to reduce your carbon footprint even more.
As more and more subscribers take advantage of HP Instant Ink’s cartridge recycling program, we’ll see less waste in landfills. There are added benefits, too, since sending cartridges back into the supply chain minimizes the impact on local trash processing and recycling.

3. Less product packaging used

HP Instant Ink Box with Cartridges Next to HP Printer
HP Instant Ink isn’t just keeping cartridge materials out of landfills and trash bins. When your cartridge is empty and you receive a replacement, HP uses minimal shipping material and product packaging.
This reduces the amount of shipping waste, which makes it easier for local recycling services.

4. No more driving around for replacements or refills

Put the days of driving around to copy shops or office supply stores behind you. HP Instant Ink is a great way to cut back on your road time and the associated gas usage, because your replacement cartridges arrive automatically. Also, you can easily get rid of your empty cartridges by using the pre-paid HP ink cartridge recycle bags. This all leads to fewer hours on the road, for lower emissions and less time wasted.

5. A streamlined solution for most printing needs

Boy Coloring on Pages Printed with HP Instant Ink
HP Instant Ink subscribers benefit with simplification for all kinds of users. From parents printing homework assignments to offices producing batches of paperwork, nearly everyone can enjoy the perks of this system.
With such a streamlined approach to printing, there are fewer opportunities for waste. As HP Instant Ink becomes available on more HP printers, you’ll have an even greater opportunity to keep waste of all kinds – from cartridges, to materials, to time – to a minimum.

Minimize your carbon footprint with HP+​ Smart Printing

If you’re in the market for a new printer, HP Instant Ink is also part of the new HP+ system, which is available on a growing selection of HP printers. HP+ is a cloud-based suite of programs that supports how you interact with HP Instant Ink and platforms like the HP Smart app. There are numerous benefits to enjoy.

Net zero deforestation

Recycle Symbol in the Trees
In terms of environmental impact, HP+ provides net zero deforestation prints through a Forest First initiative that plants a tree for every page you print. HP paper is already produced from sustainable sources, but this doubles down on that initiative by minimizing your impact regardless of the brand of paper you use.

HP 2020 Sustainability Impact Report

For the last two decades, HP has produced a Sustainable Impact Report that helps guide sustainability and environmental policy for the entire company. These reports include clear goals with time frames for sustainability benchmarks.
Here’s an excerpt from the 2020 report:

“We plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the HP value chain by 2040, with a 50% reduction by the end of this decade. We pledge to reach 75% circularity for products and packaging by 2030. And we are committed to maintaining zero deforestation for HP paper and paper-based packaging and counteracting deforestation for non-HP paper used in our products and print services.”

– Enrique Lores, HP President and CEO

For more information, you can read the full report or you can explore the HP Sustainable Impact portal to learn more about what HP is doing to help the planet.

HP ink recycling in 67 countries and territories

Recycled HP Instant Ink Cartridges
HP is reducing printing’s impact worldwide by providing better access to recycling across the globe. As of now, 66 countries and territories have easy access to hardware recycling, while ink cartridge recycling is available in 67 countries.

Investment in water-based ink solutions

When we think about how ink affects the environment, there are certainly negatives to consider. Of the many ingredients in printer ink, some aren’t environmentally friendly or easy to control. That’s why HP has invested in water-based alternatives as a more eco-friendly printer ink solution.

Alternative cartridge materials

HP Eco-Carton Ink Cartridge
HP is also exploring alternatives to traditional ink cartridge materials. The Eco-Carton Ink Cartridge is a great example, and it’s available now for certain HP large-format printers. Here’s how it’s making a difference based on the 2020 Sustainable Impact Report:

“The HP Eco-Carton Ink Cartridge reduces plastic use per liter of ink by 80% and decreases life cycle GHG emissions by 66% compared to a plastic ink cartridge, due to savings associated with manufacturing and transport.”

How HP is planning for the future

HP Instant Ink shows noticeable progress toward a more sustainable ink for printing in 2020, but we’re not done there. HP has a continued commitment to growing the program and its impact in 2021.
HP Instant Ink already fits into the company’s overall sustainability efforts, but it’s also a cornerstone for actual users to be able to participate in HP’s efforts to help the environment. It’s one that can dramatically change how you create the highest quality prints at home or at the office, while contributing to a lower carbon footprint.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.
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