Similar to FSC certification, a product or service must be in compliance with a rigorous set of criteria designed to achieve leadership levels in sustainability before it can be awarded Green Seal certification. Green Seal can only certify products and services that fall under the scope of its standards. The process begins with a preliminary application followed by a formal application package. Once established, Green Seal accepts applications for certification. Evaluation for compliance then takes place, ensuring that the product in question meets the environmental and performance requirements outlined in the standard. The final step in the process is to conduct an on-site audit of the manufacturing facility or service location. Once the applicant meets the requirements of the Green Seal standard, certification is awarded and the applicant is granted license to use the Green Seal Certification Mark on pre-approved materials.
Q: How long do certifications last?
A: With both FSC and Green Seal, permanent certification is not a guarantee. All products are subject to annual monitoring, and any deviation from their environmental commitment is brought directly to the manufacturer. Because of this, each certification becomes a standard and mandatory guideline to which every product adheres.
Q: What does post-consumer recycled mean?
A: Post-consumer material is an end product that has completed its life cycle as a consumer item and would otherwise have been disposed of as a solid waste. Post-consumer materials include recyclables collected in commercial and residential recycling programs, such as office paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastics, and metals.
Q: How much impact does recycled paper really have?
A: Using sustainable printing options makes a positive impact. A single ton of paper made with 30% recycled post-consumer fiber saves three cubic yards of landfill space, seven trees, 3,000 gallons of water, and more than 4,000 BTUs of energy. Moreso, producing recycled paper decreases air pollution by 74% and water pollution by 35%, all while creating five times the number of jobs as producing virgin paper. To personalize these statistics for your clients, there are several online eco calculators that you can use to demonstrate the impact of choosing an environmentally responsible paper for their projects.
Q: Some of my clients still think they have to pay more for earth-friendly papers. How can I make the business case for using “green” papers?
A: Education can help dispel this common myth. Some clients may not even ask for environmentally-preferable papers up front on a project because they believe that they cost more. Don’t forget to offer your clients earth-friendly papers and remind them that there is no cost difference between a paper carrying an environmental certification and one that does not.
Q: Besides certifications, are there other ways I can help make sustainable printing decisions?
A: Minimizing the use of coatings, laminates, foils, adhesives, and labels can affect the ability of a printed piece to be recycled. You can also select local or regional materials or vendors whenever possible to reduce energy transport costs.
As printers, you play a very important role in fostering the sustainability dialogue. Being responsible environmental stewards benefits our communities and the future of our industry. Employing sustainable printing solutions will be beneficial to your business, clients, and community. Do your part, and help spread the knowledge!