Should I print on a colour or black and white printer?

In the office I often print documents by default to a colour printer, but I have the choice between using a colour printer or using a black and white printer. All things being equal, is the environmental impact the same? (e.g. Do colour printers necessarily use more ink or more cartridges?)



  1. 0 Votes

    Printing in either color or black ink may not affect the environment in different ways, what appears to be more important is the kind of ink you are using and how you dispose of it. Inks that are petroleum based leak VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, which can cause cancer and birth defects if leaked into the soil. Supposedly, the VOC toxins can also be released into the air when ink dries. 


    There are many alternatives to the standard printer ink available. Soy based ink is an option that uses soybean oil, which is inherently low in VOC content. Many newspapers and magazines now use this alternative, because it is sustainable, efficient, and cost-competitive. DuraECO is one such company specializing in soy based ink ( Another tip is to substitute a Pantone color for metallic inks, which tend to degrade, reducing VOC emissions. 


    If you stick with your traditional cartridges make sure to properly dispose of them. Companies such as Staples, Office Depot, and Pet Smart offer recycling services and sometimes rewards such as coupons or discounts in return. 

  2. 0 Votes

    Apart from the environmental hazards during and after use, count the significant ecological difference in making the ink.

    Black-and-white printing can cost 1.5 cents per page, whereas color is upward of 9.0 cents. That difference is in the cost of the ink. Where there is more expense, more expensive mining and/or manufacturing will be used.

    So not only are the chemicals less good for the environment, as lilykosmicki points out, there’s bound to be a substantial impact making the ink, too.

    Overall, typical color printing is likely to be much more damaging to the environment.

  3. 0 Votes

    Print out in black ink. Most of the time the color ink is more expensive. Inks don’t cause a huge environmental impact, but freedsmooth is right; if you use a color ink it will cost more therefore more manufacturing will be used. There is also a substantial impact making the ink too, although it’s not quite effective or destructive towards the environment. 

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