Green your Printing

by John Hamlin 14. April 2010 15:02

Did you know? The Recycled Products Cooperative estimates that over 100 million trees are cut each year to supply paper products in the Unites States. According to Annie Leonard in The Story of Stuff, making one ton of paper requires the use of 98 tons of various other resources. The adverse impacts of deforestation are at the root of many of our most pressing environmental challenges. Through education and a collective effort, businesses can strive to reduce their paper footprint, preserve forest land, and often reduce expenses.

In order for organizations to print more sustainably, it is important to focus on and understand the impact of Design, Paper and Ink


The first and most important element in green printing starts at the conceptual design process. Green design looks at each piece from beginning to end considering what the user experience will be, how it will be distributed including delivery and warehousing and what the production process will be including printing and bindery.

Things one can do to maximize efficiency:

· Utilize the press sheet size to reduce waste

· Limit ink coverage/areas of solid color

· Combine pieces together to serve multiple purposes

· Aim to increase product life span (timeless design)

· Incorporate digital technology to limit print runs and waste


When considering your print options, you have two choices to minimize deforestation:

· Use recycled paper. When looking at recycled paper it is important to consider the post-consumer waste content. The difference between recycled and post-consumer waste (PCW) is that PCW refers to paper that has already been used by the consumer (the paper that you toss into the recycle bin) whereas recycled paper might include materials that never reaches the consumer.

· Use virgin paper from sustainably harvested forests. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is committed to responsible fiber sourcing by protecting endangered forests, ending clearing of natural forests, and sourcing from certified forest managers that employ the most environmentally and socially responsible practices.


Do you know how your printer disposes of unused ink? If you’re unsure, ask. Paper printed with petroleum-based inks leach VOCs—which cause cancer and birth defects—into the soil when they end up in landfills. These toxins can also be released into the air as fresh inks dry.


· Soy ink is an excellent alternative to petroleum based inks because they use soybean oil that’s naturally low in VOCs. As an alternative, it is sustainable, efficient, and cost-competitive.

· Digital technology has greatly improved and is ideal for short-run, four-color work for business cards, stationery, promotional pieces, and most print work that is less than 1,000 sheets of 14 x 20 inches. This printing method even has advantages over soy inks. While soy is comprised of 86-percent oil (non-biodegradable), digital printing uses 100-percent nontoxic toner, which also produce less chemical waste.

Being aware of the environmental issues associated with traditional printing methods and understanding that less harmful alternatives exist can help you become a wiser consumer of paper and print products. At Green Benefits, we provide consulting services about the best ways to go about your print job as well as complete job execution using environmentally conscious printing methods. Consider us for your next print job, and reduce your paper footprint!


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