PaperCut system presses students to reduce printing waste
Students living in residential areas are all too familiar with the printing ritual on campus: Print, sort through discarded sheets of assorted chemistry slides and short stories, pick up printed paper.
But this tradition will soon be changing. The Student Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) and Student Technology Services (STS) have teamed up to reduce printing waste in residential halls.
Their solution is a system that enables students to print to a virtual universal printer from anywhere in Residential Life housing. They can then go to a printer anywhere on the residential campus and release their print job from that printer. But they must actually be in the computer lab to print the job.
Members of STAC and STS hope this system will cut down on the number of pages students print and never pick up.
The new system is managed by PaperCut. PaperCut gives Washington University technology services the power to implement many different sanctions, including paper quotas, fees per sheet of paper and the new release system.
Members of STS have high hopes for the new system.
“We hope that by having to physically be at a printer, that will cut back on the amount of waste,” said Barbara Braun, director of STS.
Although STS has not kept count of exactly how much waste there has been in the past, employees say they often observe a large number of packets that just sit in the computer labs until someone recycles them.
Students have also noticed this wastefulness.
“There’s this big tray full of paper that nobody ever uses,” sophomore William Swanson said.
Few students have reported problems with the new system.
“I think that so far students’ reaction to it in res-halls has been really positive,” said John Bailey, manager of STS. “I think the students like that you can print to the system anywhere and release it to any printer in the system…which I think is a nice thing they didn’t have before.”
Students also seem to understand the need for the new system.
“In terms of wastefulness, yes, it’s a good idea. In terms of convenience it might not be, but when it comes to environmental issues in general, oftentimes convenience has to be sacrificed, because in the long run what’s most important is that our environment is in a stable condition,” freshman Justin Blau said.
“I think it makes sense because if someone goes there and prints and doesn’t pick their things up, it saves paper,” sophomore Bridgette Zou said.
STS will be tracking the results of the new program over the next few semesters.
“We’re going to be monitoring this fall and this spring, working with STAC to see how printing totals compare and watching recycle bins to see waste anyway,” Braun said. “We’re taking it out for a test drive, and we’ll see what happens.”