Eco-friendly, sustainable or “green” printing didn’t come into existence over the last year, but in many ways, it did come into its own. Here are just a few things that occurred in 2008, which made me feel really good about this industry. • Sustainable print went from niche interest to industry standard. This year saw an amazing leap forward in the sheer number of printers working on how to make their industry sustainable. We began to focus on the entire supply and production chain involved in the printing “eco-system,” and that’s led to interesting initiatives such as printing with green energy, carbon-neutral printing and working with local suppliers to cut down on the environmental costs of transporting materials.
• Green certification gained popularity. Organizations such as the FSC and the SGP didn’t appear overnight, but it’s only within the last year that they’ve really become known outside of the printing industry as the standards to look for when choosing a green printer.
• “Greenwashing” became the word of the year. Recognition and certification organizations have become central to the issue of green printing because the last year saw such a growing cynicism in consumers toward industries claiming ecological stewardship. Many companies were accused of making green claims as a marketing tool. As a result, printers, designers and advertisers have all had to tighten up their practices and philosophies in order to adhere to an increasingly rigorous green standard.
• The cost of printing green became more affordable. Since green printing has become such a necessary part of the industry, costs have begun to go way down for printers and print buyers. Huge suppliers, including Kohl & Madden, introduced low-VOC inks this year, and waterless printing continued to go down in price as demand increased. Like all innovation in the printing industry, cost has nowhere to go but down, especially during a recession.