The advent of the paperless office was thought to herald the demise of the office printer and copy machine. However, far from sounding their death knell, digital integration is expanding their usefulness.
Nevertheless, manufacturers are finding other ways to increase the environmental friendliness of their products. “We have developed an efficient method of recycling multifunctional printers and photocopiers,” says Director Business Development Europe Xavier Battinger. “In our ‘GreenLine’ production center we are able to remanufacture printers as part of a real process of resources conservation and eco-responsibility undertaken by the RICOH Group worldwide.” The goals of its initiative are to limit waste and increase reuse and recycling of resources to meet European environmental standards.
RICOH Industrie France was established in Colmar in 1987. It started out as a medium sized business but has since grown to become one of the major employers in the Alsace region with more than 950 employees contributing 207 million EUR in turnover to the RICOH Group. Its main role within the international concern is the manufacture of thermal media and printing and copying consumables. These two areas of activity together account for 78% of the French subsidiary’s annual turnover.
“Thermal paper is a special paper that turns black when exposed to heat,” explains Mr. Battinger. "Thermal papers and films are used in a variety of applications mainly for product identification and logistic labels but as well for lotteries receipts, bank statements, tags and tickets. Thermal transfer ribbons are used whenever higher resistances to solvents, heat are required and this technology offers the possibility to print on several materials (PP, PET, papers, direct packaging)"
The Colmar subsidiary also supplies toner cartridges and parts for multifunctional printers and copiers. An increasing proportion of these are recycled. “Our recycling activities now account for 20% of turnover and are growing steadily,” says Mr. Battinger. “Last year we collected more than 616,000 MFP toner cartridges from clients throughout Europe for reconditioning, refilling and resale. This activity is located entirely here in Colmar. We are pioneers in this field and are fully committed to recycling as a way to make our business more eco-friendly.”
More than 2,200 of its recycled ‘Greenline’ printers were sold in 2015. Each printer comes with the same made in France quality guarantee as a new printer but for as little as half the price.
Used printers are sourced from across Europe. RICOH takes them completely apart before replacing key components. The reconditioned printers are subjected to stringent testing before being resold.
“The advantages for customers are manifold,” says Mr. Battinger. “On the one hand, the quality and price are unbeatable but, more importantly, these printers come with impeccable environmental credentials. This appeals in particular to large corporations that want to show they care about the environment. With our recycled products they can pursue a coherent sustainability and corporate social responsibility strategy.”
RICOH itself is fully committed to sustainability. At its offices in Colmar it has a herd of sheep to keep the grass short and bee hives producing 100 kg of honey each year.
“For RICOH it is not about how pretty the flowers are but about their effect on the environment,” says Mr. Battinger. “It just goes to show how comprehensive our commitment to sustainability is and how it affects every aspect of the company.”
The ultimate aim of the ‘Greenline’ initiative is that for each new item sold, another item is recycled. Each toner cartridge is sold with a prepaid envelope with which it can be returned to the company for recycling. “Our goal for the future is to continue to the optimize the supply chain and increase the volume of equipment and consumables returned throughout Europe.”