How-To Make Environmentally-Friendly Printing Decisions
When evaluating whether or not you're truly getting eco-friendly printing, find out your printer's practices on these 4 topics:
Look for papers that include pre-consumer recycled content and are responsibly sourced from sustainable tree plantations and well-managed forests, with chlorine-free processing. Papers using post-consumer recycled fibers may or may not be the most eco-friendly option, depending on the chemicals and waste involved in the recycling process to bleach printed material into clean white sheets.
2. Inks, Coatings and Chemicals
Eco-friendly printers often use vegetable-based inks, like PFL's option for soy-based ink, instead of petroleum-based inks which leach volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Vegetable-based inks are both gentle on the environment and produce bright, high-quality images that are more easily removed during paper recycling.
Water-based aqueous coatings provide high-gloss finishes. UV coatings can also be viewed as eco-friendly if done in an energy-efficient manner. Eco-friendly printers also use organic neutralizing solutions and filters to ensure the solvents and protectants used in printing don't contaminate the local groundwater and soil.
3. Reducing and Reusing Waste
By using top-grade paper, trained operators and modern equipment, the amount of paper needed for setup can be significantly reduced. The most eco-friendly printers have their scrap paper recycled into newsprint, which requires much less energy, water and chemical treatment than recycling into white paper. Plus, biodegradable or recyclable packing materials helps avoid more permanent waste in landfills.
4. Energy Consumption
A key part of eco-conscious printing is what goes into powering and outfitting the equipment and facilities. Facilities that use renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, well-insulated, energy-efficient buildings and energy-saving features such as fluorescent lighting, low-water usage in fixtures and landscaping and power-saving equipment can make a big difference in the number of total resources it takes to produce your printed piece.
Getting the word out about your new sustainable business practices
Your customers and employees care about how environmentally responsible your organization is, and your marketing materials are a great place to start and show them you care. When you've done your homework to ensure that your printing comes from sustainably-produced paper using soy-based inks on wind-powered presses, spread the word!
You can add a line of text for the sustainable certification you use. You can also add a recycling label on your brochures, catalogs, business cards, and other marketing materials yourself to take your environmentally-friendly plan to the next level!
Learn about the realities of recycled paper
or gain access to The Ultimate Guide: How To Decide if a Printer Is Green Enough for You
for tips and tricks to help you choose a green printer.