A visualisation of total pages printed at UQ on 23 February 2016: 82,290 pages or 164 reams of paper, assuming 100% single-sided printing (image by Paul Ninnes)
A visualisation of total pages printed at UQ on 23 February 2016: 82,290 pages or 164 reams of paper, assuming 100% single-sided printing (image by Paul Ninnes)

UQ’s ITS department is rolling out a new printing system, and it’s more than just a good idea on paper: PaperCut software is saving energy, reducing emissions and cutting costs across the University. 

PaperCut is a printing management system that requires staff and students to ‘release’ printing jobs using their swipe cards thanks to a feature called FollowMe. FollowMe allows a user to print their job to a virtual printer and walk up to any compatible device across UQ to collect their printing.

How it works is this: any jobs submitted to the print queue are held there until the job owner actually goes to the printer and releases them—otherwise, the jobs are deleted after a set timeout period.

According to the ITS department, this solves a significant problem: jobs being sent to a printer and then forgotten about and not collected, which means wasted paper and unnecessary stationery costs. It also means improved document security and no more instances of someone else picking up your printing by mistake.

PaperCut has been used by some UQ faculties and the library for several years, and went live at ITS in late 2015—the results so far suggest significant long-term financial savings and environmental benefits. From 1 October to 22 April, PaperCut stopped 211,971 sheets of paper from being printed; over 50,000 sheets have been saved during the last 30 days alone.

Those figures mean that in just six months, the University’s new printing measures have saved over 25 trees, 2,692 kg CO2 and enough electricity to run a 60W bulb for 168,552 hours.

Currently, 566 printers at various University schools and faculties—including all UQ Hospital precinct areas, the Faculty of Medicine and Biological Sciences and the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences—are running on PaperCut servers; over 160 of those have the FollowMe feature enabled.

Plans are in place for all schools supported by ITS to migrate to PaperCut by the end of 2016. For more information, contact Paul Ninnes, Team Leader, Faculty Infrastructure and Support, at p.ninnes@uq.edu.au.   

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