Require Double-sided Printing on All Printers and Copiers

Savings: $200,000

Currently, the City contracts with a third party vendor to supply printer paper for all City departments.  The table below details the spending on this contract since the beginning of 2009.[1]



2011 (thru August)






Under this option, the City would make double-sided printing the default on all City printers capable of double-sided printing, thereby reducing the amount of paper the City uses.  The City has averaged $1.3 million in annual spending on paper over the last three years.[2]  A 2008 study by the technology research firm Gartner found that “organizations can potentially reduce annual paper costs by at least 30% by selecting duplex [double-sided] printing as the default setting”.[3]  However, no savings would be realized from printers and copiers that do not have the capability to print double-sided.  Using the 30 percent figure as a high-end estimate for the potential savings, the City could reduce its paper costs by 15 percent ($200,000) if it required double-sided printing.

Proponents might argue that requiring double-sided printing will not impact service delivery, but will save paper costs, waste disposal costs, and staff time as there will be less need to refill printer and copier paper. Opponents might argue that double side printing will put more pressure on printer and copiers and shorten their useful lives, meaning they will need to be replaced more often.  Additionally, others might argue that some functions of the City need the flexibility to print single-sided and this will hamper their operations.

Discussion and Additional Questions

Some questions that might be useful when considering this option:

  • For each department, what percentage of its printers and copiers have double-sided printing capability?
  • What effect does double-sided printing have on the useful life of a printer?

Budget Details

Dept: Various Bureau: NA
Fund: Various Approp Code: Stationery and Office Supplies, 0350
The appropriations are located throughout the 2011 Annual Appropriation Ordinance.


[2] The year to date spending was thru August 30, 2011 thus encompassing two-thirds of 2011.  We converted this amount to an annual spending figure assuming that it represented two-thirds of the 2011 total annual spending.

[3] McNee, Sharon and Weilerstein. “Cost Cutting Initiatives for Office Printing.” Gartner RAS Core Research Note G00155489. February 22, 2008. pg. 1