The printing industry has been trying to reduce their environmental impact for years now. In 2017, the global production of paper and cardboard was reported to be approximately 419.7 million metric tons. The paper industry is also recognized as being the fifth largest consumer of energy worldwide.

As an industry that relies heavily on the production of paper, it is evident that the printing industry needs to find ways to be more sustainable. Pulp and paper mills contribute to air, water and land pollution with discarded paper and cardboard being reported as making up roughly 26% of solid municipal waste in landfill sites in 2014.

Paper usage isn’t the only concern when it comes to creating a greener print industry. The printing technology, processes and inks used also contribute to the environmental impact of the printing industry. By becoming more sustainable, the printing industry can minimize their paper consumption, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, minimize energy consumption, and reduce water and wood usage.

Why sourcing paper is important

Paper is an integral component to the print industry. Without it, printers wouldn’t be able to make books, posters, brochures, letters, banners, business cards, and so many other items needed for both business and personal use. While high-quality printed materials may be seen as integral for sales and marketing teams, the demand for sustainable print solutions has amplified over recent years.

Sourcing recycled paper is an important and a proactive step towards becoming more sustainable. With the average office worker reportedly printing 10,000 sheets of paper per year, it is no surprise to learn that paper wastage comprises over a quarter of all municipal waste in the U.S. Your business can help do your part to reduce the environmental impact within the paper and print industry by opting to use recycled paper instead of virgin paper.

Recycled paper requires less water and energy to produce which makes it the greenest option when choosing paper for your printing. Paper fibers can also be recycled up to 7 times to create new sheets of paper. By using recycled paper and ensuring your company recycles paper, you can help the print industry reduce how much paper is sent to landfill.

Why you should embrace a green printing strategy

Sourcing sustainable, recycled paper is one way to reduce your environmental impact as a printer but it isn’t the solution to the problem. The introduction of greener printing technology is another way that the printing industry can take steps to becoming more sustainable.

A green printing strategy aims to reduce your organization’s carbon footprint. By implementing and following a green printing strategy within your organization, you can benefit from being a more environmentally-conscious business.

Your green printing strategy may comprise guidelines for paper usage such as only printing essential documents, recycled printed paper, and adjusting default print settings to ensure you get the most out of office printing. For example, setting your office printer settings to automatic duplexed (two-sided) printing can easily reduce your businesses paper usage by up to 50%. While implementing guidelines for paper usage within your business is great for saving trees and reducing your carbon footprint, it can also help reduce your annual paper spend as a business.

Within your green printing strategy you will also want to take a look at your print devices. By consolidating the number of print and copier devices your business uses, you can help reduce your company energy consumption levels. Further to this, modern integrated printer and copier devices allow users to send photocopies directly to their email rather than printing them, which can further help reduce paper usage.

Creating a green print strategy is a great way to save the environment and save money.

Using sustainable inks and print resources

As mentioned earlier, modern printers could help minimize paper usage within the office. As a printing company, there are several ways you can also reduce your environmental impact by making changes to your print resources.

When your procurement team is sourcing new materials for your print company, they should look to source environmentally-friendly and biodegradable materials. If you offer customers the ability to buy printed plastic bags, you could look to replace these with biodegradable plastic bags, or you could offer customers the choice of recycled paper bags or cotton shopper bags.

In the early days of printing, ink was derived from plant-based sources. However due to high demand in the 1970s, manufacturers began using petroleum-based inks, otherwise known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Offset printing is reported to use over three million tons of hydrocarbon-based inks and chemicals every year, releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Therefore, your print business may want to consider switching to sustainable ink alternatives, such as vegetable-based eco-solvent inks and waterless-based inks, to ensure you are doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint.

Another way to improve the sustainability of your print resources would be to use energy-saving print machines. Modern industrial printers will feature energy-saving settings that ensure the printer is only using energy when it is in active use. When energy-saving print machines are not in use, they will automatically switch to standby to conserve energy.

Managing print processes efficiently and sustainably

Finally, the most sustainable print companies are also the most organized. Print companies that efficiently manage their print processes will be the most likely to reduce their environmental impact.

By implementing clear print guidelines and training, you can ensure your team of printers knows what is required to print the perfect job each and every time. As they say in the industry: print right, not twice. Along with training your printing employees on your print processes, you can also use software to track your print processes. Print management software will enable you to better control your print output, check for print errors and improve the performance of future print jobs.

Collaborating with a Managed Print Services (MPS) company is one of the best ways to ensure your print processes are being managed both efficiently and sustainably. By taking full control of your print processes, your MPS partner can manage and optimize your printers, their output, and the people and processes that support these devices. Outsourcing your printing requirements to an MPS can also reduce costs as they will be able to optimize your print strategy to suit your business requirements.