In every industry, there is a growing emphasis on being more aware of our impact on the environment, and the print industry is no exception.
In fact, printing is one of the industries where environmental impact effects almost every part of the process – the paper stock used, the energy consumed in the print process, the ink, and everything in between, and it stands to reason that printing is wide open for new innovations and technologies to be developed in order to reduce this impact. So what can we do, as small businesses, to be more mindful of the decisions we make when we are using printing services?
What is Eco-Friendly Printing?
There are three main elements in the printing process – the technology used, the ink, and the print materials. If we can minimise of environmental impact within these three areas, then we are helping to reduce energy consumption, waste, and pollution.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements, and discover ways in which we can use our influence as consumers to push the cause.
This is probably the simplest and cheapest way in which we can make a difference. There have been huge leaps forward in producing recycled materials, and I’d bet that many, if not most printers have access to recycled print stock or other sustainable materials. You’ll see on many printers’ websites that they have the FSC logo – that’s an indication that their material comes from a sustainable source.
A lot of printers will list these options on their websites, but if they don’t, always ask.
In many cases, recycled material also comes from sustainable suppliers, and so use little or no chemicals in their manufacture.
Print tech has come a long way over the past decade, and one of the driving factors for that, other than cost, is green energy.
Modern printing and cutting machines are now made with the environment in mind, and are required to use less energy in their running, and work more quickly and efficiently.
This is another area where huge changes have been made of late – standard inks used to be made from petroleum or plastic based materials, which were really bad for the environment. However, now we have a lot of safer options in soy or plant-based inks, which are becoming much more popular, and are used in the majority of newspapers, magazines, and book printing.
Other ways we can help
We can all make a difference when we plan our printing projects, and probably the best way to do this is to ensure that we only print what we need. In days gone by, setting up a print run was expensive, and so we were encouraged to do larger print runs, resulting in extra stock that ended up in store cupboards for years – that’s no longer the case, and so if we can better plan what we need, then we can reduce the amount of materials, ink, and energy used in the first place.
Another thing we can think about is printing more evergreen content, so that our printing stock doesn’t have a used by date. This isn’t always possible, of course, in items such as catalogues/price lists, newsletters etc. But if we are more mindful of the content we are creating for print, then we can use up all of that stock without it becoming irrelevant.
I hope those points have been helpful. If you need help or advice in planning your next printing project, give us a call!