Adobe's new software to cut printing by 40%

Adobe Systems on Monday launched its new LeanPrint software, which it claims can cut a typical office's paper and toner consumption -- along with its printing costs -- by approximately 40 percent.

The software reformats documents so that they print more efficiently, using less paper and toner, according to the company. It lays out text in newspaper-style columns to make better use of space, removes display ads from printed Web pages, reformats Excel charts to keep graphs intact -- when possible -- and converts color charts and graphs into readable black-and-white patterns, Adobe says (see LeanPrint datasheet PDF). Before documents are printed, the program shows users a preview of how they will appear. 

LeanPrint also keeps track of the amount of money users -- and organizations -- have saved from printing more efficiently, and includes tools that enable managers to enforce rules such as double-sided printing, if desired. 

The company has partnered with Toshiba America Business Solutions to develop and distribute LeanPrint. The software costs $99 per PC user or $36 per user per year through a subscription, and a 30-day free trial of the software is now available via Toshiba. Adobe also offers a set of plugins for Microsoft Excel and Word, Adobe Acrobat and Reader, Internet Explorer and Firefox. 

"LeanPrint promises to revolutionize the way we all print at home and in the office by saving time, money and ultimately the environment," Bill Melo, vice president of marketing, services and solutions at Toshiba America Business Solutions, said in a statement. 

The news marks the latest attempt to reduce businesses' paper consumption. It's a noble goal: Paper accounts for the use of more than 40 percent of logged trees, and businesses contribute significantly. Americans discard 4 million tons of office paper every year -- enough to build a 12-foot-high wall of paper from New York to California, according to an American Forest and Paper Association estimate in 2004. It would take roughly 96 million trees to make that much (nonrecycled) office paper.

Trees aren't the only resource used to make paper, either. Paper manufacturing is the largest industrial user of water per pound of finished product, according to the American Forest and Paper Association. Environment Canada estimates that it takes 324 liters of water to make 1 kilogram of paper. That means that it would take approximately 310.59 billion gallons of water to make the annual 4 million tons of U.S. office paper from scratch. 

And, of course, reducing the amount of paper and toner that a business uses also can slash its costs. An All Associates white paper in 2003 estimated that Fortune 1000 companies spent a whopping $217 billion on office documents in 2002. 

Aside from Adobe, other software companies also have developed programs that can reduce printing costs. GreenPrint Technologies' software, for example, makes it easier for users to cut out unwanted text, images and pages from documents before they're printed. Marks & Spencer uses GreenPrint's software in its UK headquarters. And the World Wildlife Foundation in 2010 released a new file format (called the WWF) that simply doesn't print, to prevent people from printing certain emails. 

Here are some other ways to reduce your document expenses while saving trees and water:

Photo courtesy of Svetlana Lukienko via Shutterstock.