Environmental regulations, both at federal and local levels, play a significant role in sign shop operations. The EPA and state Departments of Environmental Quality have issued a number of regulations governing the release of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These regulations, though occasionally onerous, contribute to the health and safety of workers and often require only minor modifications. Since these regulations target manufacturing, they have shone a spotlight on one area of sustainability that can reduce costs. Reducing waste, using environmentally friendly inks and paints, and engaging employees in sustainability can raise a company’s profile, invest workers in success, and decrease costs. In fact, there are also numerous federal and state incentives to help businesses implement renewable and efficient energy alternatives which can be found at www.dsireusa.org.
Another type of regulation is the prevalence of green building codes such as the LEED standard and the International Green Construction Code. Signage can contribute to certification under both these codes. Requirements such as using low VOC paints, environmentally friendly adhesives, energy efficient lighting, FSC-certified wood, and recycled/ recyclable materials are included in both codes.
The Environmental Protection Agency offers tips on reducing waste through its WasteWise program, which includes case studies on how other companies have achieved this. It also includes tips on how to plan your program, measure results, and then let the world know about it.
Why Green Matters
At a time when many business owners are working longer hours to keep their companies afloat, the added demands that come with being environmentally responsible may seem like wasted time—or the easiest to drop off of a long to-do list.
But it is vitally important that sign and printing businesses take the time to determine how to serve their clients who are demanding environmentally friendly products, as well as ensure that they deliver what they promise. And remember, the most innovative ideas can come out of a difficult situation. Take the IKEA 20th birthday building wrap project completed by The Big Print. After wrapping 21 stores to look like birthday cakes, they were left with more than six miles of banner material, 10 miles of webbing, 19 miles of cable, and 1 mile of stitching. No recycler would take that amount of material, so the wide-format graphic producer became its own recycler. They made tarps, custom bags for future Big Print pallets, and even handbags to sell on eBay.
In short, environmental responsibility makes sense. It not only appeals to others who have committed to responsible practices, but it also can sometimes generate additional savings.
Green practices make good business. While the sign industry has a distance to go and obstacles to overcome, the shrewd business owner should be paying attention.
Sapna Budev is the director of industry programs for the International Sign Association. Since joining ISA in 2005, Budev has directed the association’s international growth and tradeshow operations. For more information, please visit directory.myprintresource.com/10006074.