Environmental Sustainability in the Print Industry

Jennings Print is committed to being environmentally responsible

In the past decades, many businesses have made an effort to go green – which means taking the environment into consideration when creating company policies. The print industry is no exception, although it can be a challenge to promote green practices given that paper is one of the biggest culprits behind the destruction of our environment.

Printing has gained a bad reputation largely due to deforestation and the reliance on petroleum-based inks. To minimise the damage to our ecosystem, more businesses are pushing for digital innovation. However, it is simply not possible to stop printing altogether and go completely paperless.

The print industry is moving with the times and has been conscientiously pursuing green printing techniques in order to become more economically sustainable.

In this article, we shall look into how the print industry is doing this. But first, let’s look at the massive impact printing has on the environment.

The demand for paper is one of the biggest contributors to deforestation

Deforestation: 14% goes to the production of paper

Forests cover approximately 30% of the land area of our entire planet. However, the rate at which trees are being cut down has become a serious cause for concern. From 1990 to 2016, approximately 502,000 square miles of greenery have been chopped down.

We all know that trees are vital in absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. They also help fight air pollution and prevent flooding. So why are we cutting down most of our trees?

The demand for paper is one of the biggest contributors to deforestation – a whopping 14% or 4 million hectares of forest is destroyed every year to supply paper. This is why the print industry has faced heavy scrutiny from environmentalists.

How is the print industry responding

How is the print industry responding?

Fortunately, the print industry is doing its part. Here are five significant green practices that printers are starting to adopt in an effort to reduce their impact on the environment.

1)      Responsible paper sourcing

Green printers ensure that their papers and other raw materials are sourced from environment-conscious suppliers. These include vendors that process recycled fibres, maintain a shipping fleet of hybrid vehicles, minimise hard waste, or encourage employees to telecommute.

Recycled paper

The first step to going green is recycling. Used paper is collected and taken to a recycling centre where it is shredded and pulped. It is then rinsed to remove any ink or adhesive. This process can be repeated up to six times before the lifespan of the paper reaches its end.

2)      Plant-based inks

Switching to environment-friendly paper is only half the battle. The other half is sourcing ink from renewable sources.

Traditional inks are made out of a notoriously finite resource – oil. These substances are known to release volatile organic compounds (VOC) that can cause adverse health effects after prolonged exposure.

Offset printing consumes more than three million tons of hydrocarbon-based inks and chemicals every year – releasing large quantities of toxic greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The main alternative to petroleum-based inks is soy

Vegetable-based inks

The main alternative to petroleum-based inks is soy. This ubiquitous plant that has swept the dairy industry can also produce inks that are more sustainable and VOC-free. Vegetable-based inks are also easier to remove, which means they can be readily recycled.

Waterless ink

Thanks to technological innovation, waterless ink is now coming onto the printing scene. In the traditional way of making ink, tremendous amounts of water are applied to keep the ink from drying – especially if the ink is for the textile industry. Today, modern manufacturing technology allows for far less water in the creation and storage of ink.

3)      Energy-saving printing technology

Along with recycled paper and plant-based ink, there is also an increasing number of environment-friendly printers now available. These printers offer a selection of eco-friendly features that can save up to 96% of the energy of a typical printer. They can also be incredibly efficient – reducing the amount of ink per page, so you get more mileage from each cartridge.

4)      Cutting down on wasteful production practices

In the past, large print runs often meant excess printed materials end up sitting on a shelf or in a warehouse. Modern technologies such as on-demand printing, variable data printing, and web-to-print portals have significantly reduced wasteful overprinting.

5)      Overall energy efficiency

Going green is more than just recycling and switching to plant-based alternatives. Printers are now revamping their business practices to include purchasing energy-efficient appliances, properly maintaining heating and air conditioning systems, and installing LED light bulbs instead of traditional incandescent and halogen lighting to improve their overall energy efficiency.

The economy can have a significant impact on the print industry

Economics and government regulation

The economy can have a significant impact on the print industry. For instance, the cost of manufacturing petroleum-based inks fluctuates according to the price of crude oil in the world market. Whenever the price of oil goes up, ink manufacturers may decide to switch to a soy or vegetable oil base rather than raise their prices. Plants are more abundant and often more accessible than crude oil, while also helping businesses achieve their green goals.

Governmental regulations may also dictate how ink manufacturers operate. If local regulations consider a material to be flammable, dangerous to public health, or harmful to the environment, an ink manufacturer would then need to classify their inks as such. Rather than risk turning customers away, manufacturers may turn to safer, more natural materials for their products instead.

Demand for more eco-friendly packaging

As more and more consumers have become environmentally conscious, the demand for eco-friendly paper products has reached an all-time high. Whether they are buying online or offline, customers now scrutinise how a product is packaged. Is it made of recycled paper? What ink was used? Can the product be recycled easily?

As a result, businesses are now turning to printers who can deliver packaging products that are made from sustainable materials and leave only a minor carbon footprint.

Trust a company that gives importance to sustainability

Trust a company that gives importance to sustainability. Trust Jennings Print.

The print industry has made some important strides in going green thanks to its willingness to listen to the demands of both the client and the consumer.

Paper and ink manufacturers have stepped up to favour environmental sustainability even as they continue to face challenges in creating more eco-friendly products.

Here at Jennings Print, we take our responsibility to the environment seriously. Call us at 02-4933-5735 to learn more about our green business practices and how we can meet your promotional needs.