How to Print Green
- Start with the design of the printed piece. Use standard paper sizes. Avoid bleeds that might require trimming. Limit ink coverage by avoiding bleeds and large solids. All of this can save paper, ink, and money.
- Print on recycled paper. If 100% recycled costs too much, shoot for 30% post-consumer waste. Encourage the customer to list that fact in the printed piece.
- Use TCF (totally chlorine free) paper. There are also PCF recycled papers in which the virgin fiber is TCF, but the other fibers may have been processed with chlorine. You can note the use of TCF paper on the printed piece.
- Use soy or other vegetable based inks for offset printing. Most digital printing with dry toner avoids VOC emissions. This can be noted on the printed piece and, in the case of offset, with the soy ink logo.
- Don’t use metallic or fluorescent inks, which can contain undesirable metallic elements.
- If you are coating printed pieces, use aqueous based coatings instead of varnish or lamination.
- Print only what is needed and take advantage of other technologies to save printing page counts. Here, you can even provide value added services by helping the customer present background or supporting documents, or information online or on disk.
- Train the customer to proof the job online, thus saving transportation costs and the cost and waste of pulling physical press proofs.
- If the job is to be delivered to multiple locations, arrange to deliver the files digitally to be printed nearer the end user. In other words, distribute and print.
- Encourage on demand print runs, which will eliminate unneeded pages and will allow for content changes or updates as required.
- Help your customers design and use their printed pieces to drive traffic to their websites and vice versa; making the most efficient use of both communications media.
- Finally, make your customers aware of your commitment to environmental sustainability by featuring these and any other green steps or processes that you offer, and by demonstrating that commitment in your own print shop operations.
Make it Known
The SGP newsletter reprinted an HP article by Stephen Goddard on “selling sustainable.” In it, he notes the varying degrees of sustainability sophistication among customers, which ranges from deeply committed to apathetic or resistant. Nevertheless, he sees a positive and profitable future for printers who make the effort to do it right.
“With a genuine commitment to sustainability, and a strategy for engaging with customers on the topic, printers can remain competitive in a dynamic environment by positioning themselves as more valued business partners to print buyers. Moreover, even though commercial printers and publishers are currently unlikely to be able to charge a premium, they can grow revenue by attracting new environmentally conscious customers and strengthening their relationships with those they already have.”