What is Sustainable Printing and Why Does it Matter?
May 15, 2023
Some inefficient printing processes can consume a lot of paper, which accounts for 23% of the total waste in landfills from municipalities that don’t have a good recycling program or from individuals that don’t recycle. While paper is recyclable and renewable, many still look for alternative ways for traditional printing to reduce waste even further.
Recent advances in supply sourcing, imaging, and paper-handling technology have made printing more sustainable. Not only do these leaner, more efficient practices help preserve the environment, they can potentially lower overhead costs.
Here’s an in-depth guide on sustainable printing and its importance to businesses.
What Is Sustainable Printing?
Sustainable printing is a method that aims to reduce waste, energy consumption, and toxic chemicals while also being economically viable.
There are several principles of the movement, including:
- Using paper, inks, and other environment-safe materials, such as recycled paper, water-based inks, and soy-based inks.
- Using energy-efficient printing equipment that reduces energy consumption, minimizes waste, and lowers emissions.
- Digital printing technologies, including inkjet, dry toner, and liquid toner, enable on-demand printing, frequent copy changes, faster time to market, and obsolescence reduction.
- Earning certifications from organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Green Seal, SGP, or Green-E.
- Educating and raising awareness of these practices for others to adopt.
By adopting these principles, many companies hope to impact the environment positively, recycle, use recyclable media and energy-efficient consumables, save more virgin forests, and reduce waste worldwide.
How Does Sustainable Printing Work?
Through the principles of sustainable printing, you can see how the process works for companies that made the shift. Some steps include:
1. Use of recycled paper and non-toxic ink
Using recycled paper is a great way to reduce the amount of paper made with chlorine and other harmful chemicals, and the number of trees needed to make paper. Non-toxic inks have low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and eliminate the use of petroleum, which harms the environment and causes health problems.
Soy-based and water-based (aqueous) inks are common, but you can also find inks made of algae.
2. Energy-efficient printing
Some types of consumer or SMB printers can consume a lot of energy and increasing your electric bill. Some commercial office printers can consume up to 1000 watts when they’re active.If you have these older printers, you can consider replacing them with those that have Energy Star certification, which means they’re more energy-efficient and cost-effective.
3. Reduction of waste and emissions
The best way to make your printing sustainable isn’t only by using recycled paper, but also by being efficient with its use. Have a rigorous checking process to ensure that the material has no errors to avoid reprints.
Another way to achieve greater efficiency is by trying to maximize an item’s intended purpose without resorting to multiple copies. For instance, the Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) sends monthly bills for residents in an envelope and includes another envelope for the return payment.
To cut down on materials and production costs, what if they sent only one reusable envelope to deliver a resident’s monthly bills instead of two? Using only one envelope reduces the waste generated per household and helps cut down on envelope paper consumption by around 48% and can reduce production costs from around 15-45%.
The patented reusable envelopes are made with recycled paper, non-toxic inks, and are a great example of sustainable printing.
4. Quality over quantity printing
When reducing waste, focusing on printing quality materials over quantity can make a sizable difference. Aim only to publish useful, error-free material that does not become obsolete quickly.
What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Printing?
Sustainable printing offers several benefits to the environment and businesses, including:
1. Waste reduction
Printing with eco-friendly practices can reduce VOCs and paper waste. Using recycled paper and going digital are all ways to help preserve the environment.
2. Eco-friendly options for printing
Sustainable printing uses renewable products for printing, such as soy-based or water-based ink. Soybean is 100% renewable, which makes it an eco-friendly option for printing.
Soy-based ink also leaves no chemical residues, packaging and other printed materials can be safely composted and recycled.
3. Improved brand image and competitive advantage
Reducing environmental impact is a crucial priority for companies. They’re also promoting awareness to customers and encouraging them to adopt eco-friendly habits to further contribute to a healthier environment.
Through these practices, a company can show its commitment to a healthier environment, and attract more customers looking for other options. Customers support companies with initiatives because they want their purchases to contribute to something greater.
By switching to sustainable printing, you stand out from your competitors and improve your branding’s image as a company that gives back.
4. Greater cost efficiency
The printing industry is changing ways to be more environmentally conscious, and one of the ways this can be achieved is through sustainable printing. Sustainable printing is more cost-efficient since Energy Star Certified printers that use ink efficiently can also lower power consumption.
Additionally, the printing and paper industry can embrace innovation through sustainable printing. This can be done using recycled paper and smaller digital print runs, lowering overall costs for printing because obsolete supplies would need to be restocked less often.
5. Cleaner air and a more productive workplace
Using eco-friendly materials and equipment means keeping your employees healthy. If you use petroleum-based ink, you’ll expose them to hazardous substances that could negatively impact their health.
Additionally, sustainable printing practices may help attract and retain employees who value working for an environmentally responsible company.
Promote and Print Green
Climate change and pollution are becoming such a concern that companies are trying to make a change by adopting more eco-friendly practices. Switching to sustainable printing can help preserve the environment.
It’s time for businesses to embrace and promote green printing. Companies can reduce waste and expenses by using recycled materials and non-toxic inks and switching to digital print when appropriate. Leading by example and attracting more environmentally-conscious customers can help raise awareness and set the foundations for a more sustainable and responsible society.
If you’re looking for eco-friendly and high-quality printing solutions, look no further than Intermedia Print Solutions. We provide sustainable printing solutions to help reduce your carbon footprint and preserve the environment. Check out our website today to learn more and begin your sustainable printing journey.