Printers' Sustainability Stories

As of May 31, 2011, 30 graphic communications facilities have achieved Sustainable Green Printing (SGP) Partnership certification. Seventeen more have taken up the challenge to incorporate sustainable business and production practices in their day-to-day operations.

If your firm is not among the 47 mentioned above, it’s certainly not too late to employ sustainability initiatives throughout your operations. Whether that means pursuing and achieving SGP certification or simply cutting down on utility costs and creating marketing opportunities, the rewards can be substantial.

To help see what you can achieve through the pursuit of sustainable practices, Printing Industries of America is offering a new resource that delivers five case studies of SGP-certified printers—“Sustainability Studies in Print: Five Printers Discuss Their Journeys to SGP Certification”. This new book features real-life case studies of three litho printers (with digital capabilities as well), a flexo printer, and a screen printer. Each study offers insights into some of the most rewarding aspects of pursuing SGP certification, some of the necessary and novel steps they took to achieve certification as well as how to tackle some of the more challenging aspects along the way. This article will share some of those printers’ success stories.


Alcom, a sheetfed, web, and digital printer with mailing and fulfillment operations outside of Philadelphia, PA, used the challenge of achieving SGP certification to address the problem of disposing of near-empty ink cans. For many printers, the proper disposal of ink cans can be a dicey proposition.

“Ink cans cannot be recycled because of the ink that’s in them—it doesn’t matter that it’s soy ink—aluminum needs to be cleaner when it goes through the recycling process,” explained Janis Galitzeck, sustainability director. “We can’t get the cans clean enough without washing them, but then washing them puts too much of the wrong kind of waste down the drain, plus it would waste a lot of water.”

Instead, Alcom developed an ink remixing program which extracts all of the ink out of cans and mixes it together until it produces a black acceptable enough to produce some of their directory jobs on their web presses. The result is much less ink going to landfills.


T-Formation, a screen printer near Tallahassee, FL, realized substantial energy savings. Thanks to an energy audit they had conducted early on in the certification process, T-Formation was able to employ several cost-cutting measures that ended up shaving more than $1,200 per month off of their energy bills.

The audit revealed their production facility, which housed 112 300-watt lighting fixtures, was not efficient. “We just walked around and turned things off and on to see how it would work,” said operations manager Chris Norris. “When everything was said and done, we ended up turning off 54 of those light fixtures. Now, those fixtures can get up to about 165° F, so when we turned off 54 of them, the ambient temperature dropped about 10 degrees, which can mean an awful lot in the middle of a Florida summer.”

SunDance Marketing Solutions

A sense of fun among employees has manifested itself at SunDance Marketing Solutions in Orlando, FL. For almost every printer pursuing SGP certification, the returns are not just in material and energy savings, but also in a more engaged and thoughtful workforce.

SunDance kicked off its sustainability initiatives by clearly communicating to its staff that the goal was to send nothing to the landfill and nothing down the drain. It was a lofty goal, but it was a goal meant to change the employees’ attitudes on just what it means to be a sustainable printer.

“It’s changed the culture and how everybody thinks, acts, walks and talks in regard to the environment every day and in every matter,” said John Ruggieri, executive vice president. “Now we see everybody out there thinking about turning off a light switch or making sure they recycle properly—not throwing a soda can in a paper container or vice versa. The little bit of trash that we have is monitored. I think the consciousness in every person—in everything that they do—has been raised incredibly.”

Excerpted from an article that first appeared in the July 2011 issue of Printing Industries of America The Magazine.