Printing Green-A Few Things You Need to Know

The definition of "printing green" is up for debate. You are going to see a lot of printers talking about their green printing capabilities. There are several things to consider when talking to a printer to decide what they are doing to reduce their footprint on the environment. Here are a few thoughts:

Terms-Here is a list of terms you may need to know about:
VOC's-Volatile Organic Compounds
Virgin Fiber-100% pulp or fiber from new trees
PCW-Post Consumer Waste paper that the fiber is recycled from previously used paper. This is expressed as a %. Usually, 30%, 50% or 100%.
PCF-Processed Chlorine Free
TCF-Totally Chlorine Free
ECF-Elemental Chlorine Free
FSC-Forest Stewardship Council
SFI-Sustainable Forestry Initiative

Ink-do they use soy or vegetable based inks? Most inks used in the printing industry are still petroleum based. Those emit VOC's and are harmful to the environment as they are being used and afterwards in our landfills. Vegetable inks use the oil from plants to create inks. These are much more eco-friendly both in use and clean up. They should be able to supply a MSDS sheet that shows this. Are they recycling all of their waste ink and press solutions?

Alcohol Free
-Are there press solutions alcohol free? Again, if needed they should be able to supply a MSDS sheet to show you that.

-Do they preserve and conserve? As a printing company they should be recycling all paper waste from the production process. Can they supply you with recycled paper? Are they FSC or SFI certified? If not do they have plans in being. What does FSC & SFI stand for? If I want to print those symbols on my job, what is the process? Can they do it?

Carbon Neutral
-Is the company carbon neutral? This can be done by reducing utilities purchased that aren't created by renewable energy. Carbon credits can also be purchased to offset greenhouse gases that are produced by the production process.

Renewable Energy-More and more utilities provide an option to purchase a % of clean energy.

Digital Printing
-Is this job something that would be produced better in smaller quantities and produced using digital inks or toner? Digital inks and toners can be even better than vegetable based inks.

These are just a few questions you can ask printing companies to decide how they are helping to make our world sustainable for future generations. None of us have all the answers but all of us should be making an effort.

Printing Green - A few things you need to know
Written by Buzz Tatom