Whether driven by your customers, advocacy groups, government regulatory agencies, or your own desire to implement green initiatives, running a more sustainable operation is a positive move for your print facility. One of the main side effects is reducing waste, a main profit eater in many printing companies. Also, media buyers are increasingly looking for suppliers with an environmentally friendly operation, and given the current competitive marketplace, which shows no signs of easing up, anything that gives you an edge is worth considering.
Sustainability is a three-prong affair, looking at “the product, the process, and the support system surround them,” says the Printing Industries of America. “The second refers to the manufacturing process, and the third includes the building, energy consumption, employees, and other supporting activities, such as solid waste removal and transportation.”
The best approach is to come up with a sustainability plan of action, looking at how every step of the manufacturing process within your facility and how you can improve your environmental footprint. In this case, the smaller the footprint, the better. At the end of this article are recommendations, provided by Mohawk Paper, on ways to bring sustainability into your operation, as well as industry resources you can turn to for help.
Even before you set pen to paper to come up with a plan there are some simple steps you can take: switch to energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs instead of using traditional incandescent bulbs; install occupancy sensors that detect motion causing the lights to switch on or off; and make sure employees turn off their computers at the end of each day. These steps are a perfect example of sustainability simultaneously reducing costs and the environmental footprint.
Below are offerings from a few key vendors that can help you on your road to sustainability.
Mohawk Paper: Examining Every Aspect
Being part of an industry that depends heavily on energy, water, and other natural resources, Mohawk has embraced the concept of extended stewardship, says Bart Robinson, vice president, Marketing, Mohawk. “We continually examine every aspect of our business with the objective of making our environmental footprint as small as possible.”
Mohawk doesn’t own forest land, but instead purchases a variety of postconsumer and virgin hardwood and softwood fiber pulps, driving compliance through its supply chain. ”We source fiber that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) where possible and have notified our fiber suppliers that we will not accept fiber harvested from high conservation-value old growth forests,” notes Robinson. “We require documentation demonstrating sound environmental practices and responsible forestry management, which is enforced by regular surveys. We were the first paper manufacturer in the US to receive Green Seal certification. We used over 23,000 tons of post-consumer fiber in 2010, which essentially eliminated the harvest of 552,000 trees.“
Every grade that Mohawk manufactures carries the “Mohawk wind power” designation, which means 100 percent of the electricity used in Mohawk’s operations is matched with RECs from Green-e certified wind power projects.
“We offer a number of products that are made carbon neutral within our production processes,” says Robinson. ”The thermal energy used to manufacture these papers is offset with Verified Emissions Reduction credits (VERs) that fund renewable, emission-free energy projects. Through this process, Mohawk is seeking to manufacture these papers with a net zero climate impact.“
Mohawk’s Loop line of papers was originally developed to give end users a complete offering of highly environmentally preferable choices—very high PCW content, made with wind power, FSC certified Carbon neutral and Green Seal certified—a one-stop shop for the environmentally conscious customer, explains Robinson.
Tembec Paper—Sustainability Across the Board
“We address sustainability and waste and savings in one fell swoop,” says Anton Deinekin, marketing manager, Tembec – Kallima Paper. “Our forests lands and Kallima Coated Cover products are FSC-certified. In fact, Tembec was the first and largest Canadian pulp and paper company to get on board with the standard and help it gain traction.”
Tembec has certified nearly 10 million hectares (about 25 million acres) of forest it directly manages, which makes us one of the largest producers of FSC products in the marketplace.
“We have a unique manufacturing process compared to other North American producers, where we achieve the same thickness of sheet as our competitors but use less pulp, which translates into using less trees and generating less waste,” says Deinekin. “The fibers are bulkier and less dense. They are also acid-free.”
Tembec’s Kallima, adds Deinekin, provides a particular grade caliper at a significant weight advantage. For instance, the lightweight FCS-certified Kallima C2S 14-pt coated cover grade, allows the company to offer customers savings of up to 20 percent over its competitors, based on bulk and weight. “Our big advantage in the marketplace is that savings piece,” says Deinekin.
For commercial printers who ship a high volume of printed products to multiple locations, this can be particularly attractive. “If you are printing 1,000 pocket folders, and your box is five to 20 percent lighter than using a competitor’s paper product, it is not only a cost savings on purchasing the paper and the shipping finished goods, but is arguably also a sustainability win—less weight requires less fuel to move that weight, less energy used by that UPS truck,” says Deinekin.
Tembec’s strict environmental standards are in evidence at its mills. “It’s the whole process, from optimum control of wastewater and air emissions quality to maximizing the use of green energy.” explains Deinekin. “Our Temiscaming facility is currently working on a large bio energy project where we use the byproducts from pulping and other biomass as fuel for our steam boilers. We will even be able to sell green electricity to Hydro Quebec.“
Prisco’s “Go Green” Initiative
Prisco’s public commitment to a more environmentally-friendly practice dates back to 2007 at Graph Expo, when it launched its “Go Green” program, a comprehensive approach to assist printers to reduce their carbon footprint and overall waste.
All Prisco manufacturing operations are committed to the program, through product formulation, lean manufacturing processes, and the surrounding support system, explains Eric A. Gutwillig, VP of marketing, Prisco – PriscoDigital. “Our line of low VOC aqueous coatings address the VOC/HAP content requirements for local and state regulatory agencies,” he comments. “ Our current offering of pressroom solvents and fountain solutions also reflect the same commitment to reducing environmental impact.“We do continuous research and development to formulate sustainable products that address issues such as recyclability, biodegradability, and compostability. This work continues with cooperation and assistance from our major raw material suppliers.”
The Go Green program consists of a benchmarking of pressroom operations (digital and offset) to determine the current state of waste material quantities, in-house and external recycling and products utilized. “We have the extensive experience and knowledge to make recommendations on the changes that when made, will achieve significant reductions in environmental impact,” says Gutwillig. “We can offer specific solutions from our wide range of pressroom chemical products, recycling and reuse equipment, and pressroom process control equipment to our customers that will achieve stated sustainability goals and objectives.”
Enviro Image Solutions Renewable Blankets Program
Enviro Image Solutions (EIS) service offers savings for both the environment and the pocketbook, says Kimberly Bruce, communications manager and customer relations manager. A 2007 InterTech award winner, EIS renews spent printing blankets for reuse of press. The program is designed to help printers save up to 70 percent of annual blanket costs.
“The Enviro Image Solutions Blanket Renewal Program turns a one-time consumable into a multi-use asset, by allowing spent printing blankets to be renewed repeatedly to their original print quality,” says Bruce. “This costs approximately one-third the price of a new blanket, and diverts thousands of tons of waste from landfills.“
The program works best when the pressroom ensures that blanket handling procedures treat the used blankets as carefully as a new blanket, explains Bruce. To renew a blanket there cannot be any abrasions to the rubber surface. The idea is to treat blankets as an asset that can save a company tens of thousands of dollars, not a consumable to throw away.
“To keep EIS a truly sustainable company any blankets that we cannot renew are recycled or repursed,” says Bruce. “Some blankets are used as alternative fuel in a clean-burning kiln that collects the carbon ash to be mixed into concrete, while other blankets are donated to local craftspeople who turn them into products like belts and wallets.”
FloClear’s Fountain Solution Filtration System
FloClear offers a multistage filtration system for fountain solution that separates all of the contaminants out of the fountain solution while leaving in the critical ingredients. All particulate matter, including colloidal and sub-colloidal are removed. The process virtually eliminates fountain solution dumps and extends the life of the fountain solution to as much as six months or more, positively impacting both the environment and bottom line.
There is a consumable cost involved with our machinery, but compared to shutting down the press and cleaning or troubleshooting, “this is an economics savings relative to having to ‘shutdown and guess,’” says Harry Stinson, president, FloClear.
Not only are printers saving press downtime, they are also saving on chemistry, the cost of treating dump water, and/or eliminating time and cost spent hauling the waste to a landfill. “It can cost $100-200/barrel to have the water treated; dumping water every week becomes expensive over a year’s time,” notes Stinson.
Launched in 2004, FloClear won an InterTech award and is recommended by all the major press OEMs, he says. “OEMs aren’t going to recommend a piece of equipment that costs $15,000 unless it positively compliments their multi-million dollar press and its operation,” says Stinson.
He advises printer to look how much time they waste troubleshooting their water. FloClear’s ability to maintain the consistency of the water means that the press operator doesn’t need to worry about fountain solution degradation and negatively impacting print job consistency. “Using FloClear, if a job runs on Monday, and then again on Friday, the press operator only needs to see what his settings were when he originally ran the job and plug the same settings in on Friday, and he’s all set to go,” says Stinson. “There’s no guess work or extra makeready time needed.”
DGM: Sustainable Finishing Options
Sustainability can best be described in print as reusability, recyclability, a low carbon footprint with higher operating speed and lower cost. DGM’s Foildex Cold Foil and LED Cast and Cure systems tick all five of these boxes when assessed with current application techniques, says Michael DeBard, president, Diversified Graphic Machinery.
Cold foil is a perfect replacement for foil-lined boards, says DeBard, which contain a film layer making them difficult to recycle. “Both cold and hot foils can be recycled, but cold foil is applied at operating speeds on the press with almost no additional power requirements to the press itself,” he says. “Hot foil requires enormous amounts of heat and power to achieve an acceptable result, leading to higher costs and higher carbon footprint due to power consumed.”
Unused portions of cold foil can be applied during second and third passages of the foil through the press and ultimately the polyester carrier used to make cold foil can be recycled. Exciting designs of cold foil also carry very low application cost using minimal energy to result in a very small carbon footprint. DGM’s Foildex Cold Foil systems with indexing delivers up to 82 percent in foil savings, adds John Hopkinson, Vice President of Technology, DGM. “
DGM’s Cast and Cure process uses a UV varnish to impart a holographic effect to the surface of the printed sheet without adding any additional materials to those already used to produce a UV coated surface. The embossed polyester film is pressed into the wet varnish and while the two are pressed together, the varnish is cured using LED UV light. The film is then stripped from the sheet to be reused. The emboss manifests itself as the holographic effect on the surface of the sheet.
“The use of LED UV Filmdex application in conjunction with Air Motion Systems allows twice the life of the film as with mercury UV systems because of the absence of heat,” says Hopkinson. “The LED lamp itself uses very little power compare to a mercury lamp and has many times the life, therefore reducing the overall manufacturing cost and energy used therein.”
Once the same roll of film has been used to produce 25 to 30 different products, the resultant waste film is completely recyclable as are all products produced with it. VOC’s are not produced with the cast and cure application.
“Both of these unique techniques from DGM show that innovative and highly attractive print enhancement is perfectly possible while maintaining the lowest possible carbon footprint and effect on the environment,” says DeBard.
Recommendations for becoming more sustainable
(Courtesy of Mohawk Paper)
- recycle paper, inks, plates, cartridges, and packaging and anything else possible.
- use vegetable-based inks, and low-VOC coatings
- include in your paper choices those with high recycled and post-consumer waste content, as well as a variety of FSC or SFI certified papers that are composed of substrates obtained from renewable resources.
- recommend sheet sizes that optimize the press sheet so there is less wasted paper
- use uncoated stock or be sure the coating from coated stock used is recyclable
- recommend the lightest basis weight of paper to minimize environmental impact
- become FSC certified.
- minimize packaging and use only recycled/recyclable packaging materials.
- look for paper that is distributed by rail or ship
- work with local suppliers to reduce ozone-depleting emissions from shipping and transport.
- counteract carbon emissions from energy use and shipping by purchasing carbon offset credits
- recommend saddle-stitching or water-based adhesives where appropriate. The staples in saddle-stitching are easily removed during the recycling process and the water-based glues contain less VOCs and harmful chemicals than their petroleum-based counterparts.
Resources: Where to go for Help
Printing Industries of America’s The Green Guide for Graphic Communications: Growing and Profiting through Sustainability
Sustainable Green Printing (SGP) Partnership: The SGP Partnership is an industry-specific, voluntary program designed to reduce the environmental impact and increase social responsibility of the print and graphic communications industry. The Partnership certifies printers against specific criteria and requires printers to commit to making continuous improvement in the product, process, and envelope areas of the graphic arts industry.
Chain-of-Custody Procedures for Printers: Chain-of-Custody certification is a voluntary certification that ensures the paper you print your customer’s project on is responsibly sourced. Both the Forest Steward Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) have the resources and expertise you need to develop the proper management system and procedures in order to obtain a chain-of-custody certification.
Carbon Footprint Calculator for Printing Operations: To assist our members in determining the carbon footprint of their operation, Printing Industries of America has developed an Excel based tool that is specifically designed for calculating Scope I and II emissions of a printing operation.