In Pursuit of Sustainability

Tom Kemper, CEO and founder, Dolphin Blue
Steps printers can take to reduce their carbon footprint

Green printing businesses are not just about the products produced, such as those manufactured using FSC- and SFI-certified paper stocks. The role of sustainability in the printing industry also encompasses all support activities, the grounds and the physical plant. Measures that go beyond the scope of offering environmentally friendly paper can be as simple as installing energy-efficient lighting and Energy Star-compliant computer systems.

Because our population is expected to reach 9 billion in less than 50 years, and our natural resources continue to diminish, doing the minimum in regard to sustainability is far from a sufficient action in the 21st century. We will eventually reach the point where certain consumables are too expensive to produce or we’ll run out of the natural resources required to produce them. Therefore, businesses must constantly raise the bar in terms of their sustainable practices—before it’s too late.

For example, using soy inks in printed material is a popular way to express one’s commitment to the environment. Though these inks are far better than what was used 20 years ago in terms of their ecological impact, they’re not always an eco-friendly alternative, since rain forests have been cut down in some instances to grow the actual soy beans. While researching where the soy oil is coming from might not be practical, you can express an interest in products manufactured in the United States to your ink suppliers and manufacturers. When discussing sustainability, a key component is sourcing materials that are as close to your locale as possible. Products sourced locally, rather than globally, may assure more sustainable practices—from production and harvest, to transport of the product.

Tips for the Trade

For an organization seeking to become a more eco-friendly operation, there are a few easy ways to start moving in a greener direction.

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