Printing companies are continually looking to minimise the environmental impact of printing Printing companies are continually looking to minimise the environmental impact of printing CREDIT: Pixi

Printing Industry's Push for Sustainability & the Misconceptions of Printing

Monday 27 March 2017, 2:25PM
By Pixi

When it comes to print advertising, the question of environmental impact is inevitably raised. We live in an era of corporate social reasonability where companies are held accountable for their actions. When it comes to the consumption of print media, we tend to conjure images of mass deforestation and high environmental impact. But how much is this conception is misplaced? Is print media really the monster it is so often portrayed as?

When it comes to the creation of print media, there are three phases – production, printing and user consumption.  For each step in this process there are a number of industry safeguards which significantly diminish the impact on the environment.  Due to the emphasis on sustainability throughout the print industry it is prioritised throughout the sector.  Today it is one of the most researched fields within the industry, as companies look to constantly improve on all three operational phases. 

1. Production

Paper is a highly renewable material which is easily recycled.  Much of the demonization of paper has stem from its raw material – trees.  However, forests which are used in the production for paper are stringently controlled and managed to ensure sustainability.  These processes are held to account by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). In fact, the management of these forests has been so successful that the forest in which 90% of Europe’s paper comes from has increased by the size of Switzerland in the past decade. 

2. Printing

As materials and practices are being constantly refined to minimise environmental impact, the printing process is becoming increasingly eco-friendly. More and more printing companies are making a commitment to environmental printing. Albany based CMD Print Solutions comment how they continuously reserach ways to reduce the environmental impact of printing, working collectively withtheir suppliers to achieve this.

“By implementing new practices company wide, we can offer a sustainable product to our consumers. This doesn’t only come down to the inks and toners we use but also the way we package our products, the papers we use (sourcing materials from sustainable forests), recycling certain parts of our equipment and how we dispose/recycle ink and toner cartridges. We continuously look in to ways to reduce our environmental impact and we also work together with our suppliers on this” 

3. Consumption

Obviously, the most significant way in which the printing industry reduces environmental impact is through the recycling of paper products.  Being the most recycled material in the world, paper is one of the only materials which is 100% recyclable.  Statistics collected from Europe showed that, in 2015, recycling rates for paper were above 75%.  In fact, over 50% of the raw material being used to produce paper in Europe comes from recycled paper.

Another way in which CMD Printing Solutions reduced their wastage was through offering customers the opportunity to print on demand as well as allowing customers to order smaller quantities.

“Traditionally, customers would have to place large orders to reduce their cost per unit. However, this tended to lead to a high amount of wastage, as stock became out dated and unusable. Because of this, we decided a more sustainable solution would be to allow our customers the same reduced unit prices for small orders. What we call a print-on-demand service”.

As processes have improved, the printing industry has embraced the move to create a sustainable product.  Today, print advertising is a viable part of even the most environmentally conscious companies marketing efforts.