Greening the Printing Industry—How?

There has been a lot of buzz around the topic of sustainability in the graphic arts industry. But, what does it really mean in the print industry to “go green”? And what challenges are commercial printers and other print service providers facing?

While it is difficult to generalize, most agree that the whole “going green” initiative means print service providers and those suppliers to the graphic arts industry are working towards sustainable products, processes, and practices to ensure a healthier and sustainable future.

“Going green in the print industry means printers’ supply chains and production practices are responsible—using third-party certified paper, water-based inks, plant recycling programs and more,” says M. Jan Martin, Events, Fulfillment & Communications Manager, Domtar (Booth 3135). “Paper and print are renewable, responsible, recyclable means of advertising and communication when the entire life cycle is managed properly.”

“There are two meanings to this term of going green,” says William Brandenburg, Senior Vice President of Sales Marketing, Imaging Technologies, Inc. (Booth 2937). “First, there are those companies that supply equipment that manufacture that equipment in an environmentally beneficial way. Second, are the printers themselves who produce printed matter with an eye toward driving down the waste generated to produce their product. Since 60% of the cost of printing is paper, the printing industry has long ago recognized the benefit of replanting and using recycled stock, where possible. The same can be said for the manufacture of ink and related chemicals. These manufacturers have long been developing products with less impact to the environment.”

Coating manufacturers—such as Schmid Rhyner (USA), Inc. (Booth 3039)—source and use selected raw materials and special manufacturing processes that meet the most restrictive environmental requirements. Additionally, they need to be able to offer non-hazardous coatings without environmentally harmful substances.


Unique challenges

When it comes to implementing green and sustainable practices and procedures with a business, however, wishing for it to happen will not get the job done. And building a sustainable organization is requires more than just one person. While a sustainability advocate is important within an organization, everyone—from the top down—needs to be involved with the process.

“It needs everybody to be involved in the whole process. It needs a commitment to continuously find innovative solutions and improving existing products by focusing on a sustainable and resource friendly concept,” says Monika Regina, Vice President of Schmid Rhyner.

Another hurdle for companies trying to implement sustainability is the large number of options available and lack of consistency and simplicity. According to Jodi Haugen, Director of Marketing, Xcel Products, Inc. (Booth 3235), “Our current infrastructure does not support easier, convenient, or simple; therefore, even when intentions may be good, the majority of disposed of printed goods are still going into landfills. Many don’t realize that we do not have the infrastructure to recycle many commercial goods.”

Attendees will gain the most current information and education about sustainability in GREENspace—sponsored by Graphic Design USA—a featured section on the trade show floor dedicated to sustainability and the exhibitors that offer eco-friendly products and services. From paper and substrates, recycling services, inks, and consumables to carbon credits, certification programs, energy efficiency, alternate sources of energy, and waste reduction services, attendees will find everything they need to “go green” with confidence. In addition to the exhibitors in GREENspace, there are free education seminars, complimentary one-on-one consulting with sustainability experts in the GREENspace ‘Consultants Corner.’