EcoFont: A cost benefit analysis of eco friendly font printing

eco-fontI‘m always on the lookout for new ways to save money and to live frugal, today I’m analyzing environmentally friendly printing (or eco font printing) as it was a topic that appeared on Reddit. Basically, the idea is to print in the same manner as you already do, with the same printer and ink and paper, however, you buy software that adds another font with minuscule holes in it for printing, thus saving you 25% in ink. Below, I will look at one company in particular, Ecofont®, and determine if what they’re selling will actually help save you money or not. It costs about $24 for a 3-year license for an individual and per user in a small business (with a sliding scale, as more licenses are purchased, the price per license goes down), and you have to request more info on prices for organizations with more than 100 users (the enterprise edition).

In theory, if you reduce the amount of ink to be printed, you will save money and help the environment. Here’s the advantages of their system per their website:

Saves printing costs and is eco-friendly

1. Saving in printing ink or toner
With Ecofont® you save (usually up to 25%) on ink or toner. In the knowledge that printing ink is a highly polluting substance that is also one of the most expensive in the world, this represents a substantial saving.

2. Internal awareness
The clear, pleasurable manner of saving with Ecofont will encourage environmentally and cost-conscious behaviour among your employees.

3. Corporate Social Responsibility
Being green is no longer a luxury but essential. By using Ecofont you openly demonstrate that your organisation integrates the interests of the three Ps (People, Planet, Profit) into its operations.

Let’s get down to the cost benefit analysis:

The chart below illustrates the cost of printing 1,000 pages on a budget inkjet (750 pages of black text and 250 pages of color images), a personal laser, and a midrange office laser. Factoring in the cost of the printer and the cost of the printed pages, the lasers still cost more in total, but that’s because their purchase price was so much higher. The cost of printing pages on the inkjet, however, has already overtaken the cost of purchasing the actual printer. If you project out to printing 3,000 pages on each printer, the inkjet’s total cost rockets to $291.75, compared to the personal laser’s $278 and the midrange laser’s $294.

Printer
Cost per 1,000 pages printed

Budget inkjet*

$69.00 $74.25 $143.25
Personal laser

$200.00 $26.00 $226.00
Business laser

$249.00 $15.00 $264.00
Note: * Assuming 750 black pages and 250 color pages

Above cost info found here.

Depending on what type of printer you use will determine how much financial benefit you would get from EcoFont printing, as the more expensive and high powered laser printers use less ink. So, will you recoup the costs and if so how long will it take and how much money can you save?

In order to analyze this I’m going to look at the cost per person per month and year for each printer type and the associated average printing. I will compare those costs to the cost for the license for 3-years and look at the associated savings.

The average web user prints 28 pages daily [Source: Gartner group and HP]. (Source)

According to the Worldwatch Institute report, the average American office worker uses 12,000 sheets of paper per year or 1000 sheets per month. A package of paper is called a ream and has 500 sheets of paper. So, the average office worker is using 2 reams of paper each month. Not all of that paper use is under your control. You can only affect your own printing and copying behavior. So we’re going to cut that number in half and assign an average paper use of 1 ream per month to everybody.

At home, I’m certain I don’t print near that much, however, my wife does for her schooling. For simplicity, I’ll assume the average person prints 75% or less at home than they do at work, (7 pages per day, 200 pages per month, or around 2500 pages per year). Compare your home printing with my assumptions to determine if you should tweak the costs. For business use, I feel the 12,000 pieces of paper per year seems reasonable, and I will use those numbers.

For the budget inkjet category (the person printing at home 2500 pages per year), the average user would spend about $185 in ink over the course of a year ($74.25 per 1000 pages and they would print 2500 pages, so I took 74.25 times 2.5). I’m ignoring the cost of the printer itself as it is irrelevant and I’m assuming the cost is sunk. If you were able to reduce printer costs by 25%, you would save $46 per year, or $138 over a 3 year period, less the cost of the product $24, your net savings would be $114. You would recoup the cost of the license in about half a year.

For the personal laser category (assuming 12,000 pages printed per year), the costs would be $312 per year ($26 per 1000 times 12). If you were able to reduce printer costs by 25%, you would save $78 per year, or $234 over a 3 year period, less the cost of the product $24, your net savings would be $210. The payback on the license would be just a few months.

For the business laser category (assuming 12,000 pages printed per year), the costs would be $180 per year ($15 per 1000 times 12). If you were able to reduce printer costs by 25%, you would save $45 per year, or $135 over a 3 year period, less the cost of the product $24, your net savings would be $111. Similar to the inkjet, you would recoup the license costs in half a year.

Now, sometimes you won’t be able to print with this font, due to printing for school papers or board meetings or similar, however, with enough people on board, teachers and directors maybe willing to change their standards. Having said that, you may need to slightly adjust your savings if you won’t be printing 100% of your work via this Ecofont. Here’s the difference in the way the font looks compared to other well known fonts:

ecofont compared

Above, we are assuming the product does what it says it does and in fact reduces consumption of ink by 25%, and also we truly only focused on the financial justifications, rather than looking at the positive environmental aspects of reducing waste. A general analysis of the product and service and it’s associated value to consumers is positive, however, I would be cautious to jump on the band wagon and buy the EcoFont product until there is independent testing confirming their claims of 25% reduction in waste. Regardless, if the company were able to reduce waste by any amount and save you no money, it still seems like the smart move for the environment. It doesn’t matter if you believe in global warming (climate change) or not, the earth is our house and polluting it is a crappy way to leave things for our kids and our future. Who knows whether climate change is something we impact through our actions, but I’m certain we are impacting the oceans and reefs and forests and more with our unnecessary pollution, and we will have to live with the impact on our food supply and wildlife well into the future if we don’t do something to change now.

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4 Comment

  1. Steve says:

    Lexmark is a “sneaky” manufacturer with their black ink cartridges. They stock and supply cartridge #70 black for the printer model that I have. But what a lot of people don’t know is that they also have, for the same price, a cartridge #75 black that contains 25% more ink! Yet they don’t sell it in the stores.

  2. Try PretonSaver Home. It is easier to use, works with all applications, documents and fonts.

    It saves up to 70% of ink consumption. And, under standard optimization (35%) the printout looks just like the original.

    You can get a free download at http://www.halftheink.com

  3. Mike says:

    In interesting review but I have a problem with the accuracy of the print output per person, those figures seem extraordinarily high. Checking our office multifunction printer here (it logs print history stats) we see around 24,000 sheets (60 black/40% colour) for an office containing about 50 people in 6 months.

    12,000 per person per year seems very high for what I would call a ‘knowledge worker’.

  4. hans says:

    The free Ecofont vera sans has evolved into software that shoots holes in your fonts. It works with your current fonts, so no need to change your docs or house style. It doesn’t matter if you have a HP, Ricoh, Xerox, Canon, Lexmark, Oki, Lexmark, Samsung, Sharp or any other printer/copier. You can save more than 25% toner on all devices. Despite what some vendors say, Ecofont works on all brands. Since Ecofont saves 25% toner it is not hard to imagine why printer brands are not happy with Ecofont

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