PaperCut Reduces Paper Usage 20%

The first semester of PaperCut is coming to an end. Overall, paper use has reduced by 20% compared to the same period in fiscal year 2009. This reduction in printing has helped cut down on wasteful consumption of resources, decreased budgets at the Library and Information Technology through reduction in paper use and the purchase of printer cartridges. Wait time for documents to be printed has generally been shorter, as fewer unwanted pages are being sent to printers.

Paper left at library printers in 2008

We will set an allotment of $20 for Winter Study and we are working with student representatives of College Council, Faculty, Librarians and Information Technology staff to determine an appropriate allotment and approach for the Spring Semester. All unused college-granted credits of the Fall Semester will be removed from student PaperCut accounts and, as an interim measure, students will be given $20 allotment for Winter Study period. Any credits that students have paid for will be rolled over to the next semester.

Based on our analysis of December 1st, PaperCut program has been successful in reducing paper waste on campus and we have learned a little more about printing habits of our students. Our goal had been to set a paper allotment such that most students are able to meet their printing needs without having to pay for extra pages. We also set the price low enough so that if students did need extra paper for their work, the financial burden would not be unreasonable. Paper and printing through PaperCut cost a little more than the price of photocopying or printing at Office Services.

Below are some statistics on paper use this semester (as of Dec 1st):

  • 36 students purchased additional printing credits
  • 10 students had exceeded the original allotment
  • 90 percent of students used fewer than 378 pages. (The $50 allotment would allow students to print 500 double sided pages).
  • In fall of 2009, the maximum number of pages printed by any student was 1242, last year at this time the maximum was 3995
  • Seniors print more than twice the amount of First Years, 497 pages compared 211 pages at the 90th percentile.
  • Female students print more than male; 411 pages and 339 pages at the 90th percentile.
  • The average thesis student printed 211 pages compared to  the average for the senior class at 239 pages.
  • Art History, Comparative Literature, Women and Gender Studies majors printed more than 1200 impressions at the 90th percentile
  • Theater and Physics majors used the fewest number of pages.

Overall the response has been relatively positive. For many students, the implementation of this paper management system has had little impact on their ability to print the documents they need for their course work. For other students, the perceived ‘quota’ has been stressful as they try to meet the demands for their courses without exceeding the $50 (underclass students) or the $75 (seniors) allotment.  Since very few students have had to purchase additional credits we expect that as the program matures, we will see even more widespread acceptance.

We also encourage faculty to consider making ‘printed’ courses packets for materials that they expect students to print, accepting electronic submissions of homework and papers, or other approaches to reducing printing.

We thank the students, library and information technology staff and faculty for making our first semester a success!

For more information about printing at Williams, please visit: