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postheadericon Green Printing - Sustainable Printing in Six Easy Steps

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Businesses worldwide are taking steps to reduce their environmental impacts, and printing is an area where businesses large and small can make a difference by choosing to print more sustainably. But how do you know if the printing company you're working with is truly sustainable?

1) Environmental Management System and accreditation

Look for a printing company that works under a documented Environmental Management System (EMS). An EMS is a set of policies and procedures that ensures the company adheres to best practice when it comes to their environmental impact. As it must be fully documented, get them to send you a copy.

Better still, choose a company that is certified to ISO 14001 - the most thorough, internationally-recognised accreditation available for environmental management systems.

2) Carbon neutrality

A lot of carbon dioxide and carbon-equivalent gases are generated through printing and its associated processes. Energy usage, transport, manufacture of raw materials etc. all generate greenhouse gases and if your printing is to be truly eco friendly this must be countered through the purchase of carbon offsets.

Check with your printing company if they offset their carbon emissions. And if they say they are, ask whether they offset only their own emissions, or also the 'upstream' and 'downstream' emissions related to your printing - including all raw material production, transport, recycling etc. This 'full life cycle' view of carbon emission is known as Scope 3, and only the most conscientious of printing companies are able to offset emissions this completely.

3) Ink

Vegetable-based inks are the greener alternative to toxic oil-based inks. Produced mainly from renewable soy beans, they are much kinder to the environment than their petroleum-sourced counterparts. They produce less solvent emissions and printed products using soy based inks can be more easily recycled.

4) Paper

Paper, if purchased responsibly, is part of a sustainable supply chain using renewable resources. Ask your printer about their paper purchasing policy. Responsible paper purchasing is important to ensure that the pulp for the paper used has not come from one of the world's endangered rainforests.

Paper purchased responsibly shouldn't cost any more than other paper, and will have chain-of-custody documentation available to show where the pulp came from, right down to the location of the trees used to make the pulp. These types of paper are known as FSC and PEFC certified paper. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes) are global certification schemes for responsible paper production. Logos from both schemes may be added to materials printed by printing companies that are certified with those schemes.

So to ensure your printing is truly green, choose a printer that is FSC and/or PEFC certified and uses certified papers with full chain-of-custody documentation - guaranteeing compliance with best practice in paper production.

5) Waste

Ask your printer what processes they have in place to reduce and recycle waste products. From chemicals used in the printing process, to packaging materials and paper offcuts, printing can produce a lot of waste materials.

The first step is avoiding waste altogether - good planning and smarter production can see huge reductions in the amount of paper, packaging and cleaning products that would otherwise be wasted. Any waste that is produced should be re-used or recycled wherever possible - find out what initiatives your printer has in place in these areas.

6) Chemical Usage

Historically, printing has involved the use of a range of toxic and environmentally damaging chemicals, many of which are still used by the majority of printers today. Isopropyl alcohol is perhaps the most common example. Fortunately there are now cleaner alternatives that allow much more environmentally friendly printing.

Ask your printer if they have eliminated alcohol from the printing process. What other steps have they taken to reduce the amount of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and other harmful emissions produced?

Computer-To-Plate (CTP) technology allows printing plates to be produced without the need for film, eliminating a chemical-intensive part of the print process. Choosing a printer that can offer CTP is the best way to go.

David Fuller is the Managing Director of Focus Press , a leading green printing company based in Sydney, Australia. David is passionate about making printing more sustainable and has pioneered many innovative green printing processes in Australia in his efforts to make the industry more environmentally responsible.

Article Source: Green Printing - Sustainable Printing in Six Easy Steps

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