Importance of sustainable commercial printing

Go Green! Our Top Do’s and Don’ts for Sustainable Printing

From recycled paper to environmentally friendly inks, there are more choices than ever to help direct mail advertisers ensure their bulk mail printing is earth friendly. Thanks to new commercial print initiatives and technologies, direct mail marketers can now print sustainably and responsibly so they can do their fair share to save the planet. Here are our top recommendations for sustainable commercial printing that are easy to adopt and deploy.

Summary Checklist:

  • Source paper from a sustainable forest or use recycled content
  • Choose paper that meets renewable, recyclable, biodegradable or compostable guidelines
  • Select non-toxic ink with low VOCs
  • Use plant-based inks that are easy to remove from the paper for recycling
  • Hire a printer that uses energy-efficient practices and recycles waste
  • Choose a printer near your delivery region to save on time, money and emissions

Read further for details.

Do Choose Your Paper Wisely

Approximately 35% of total trees cut around the world are used for paper industries—and about 2.47 million trees are cut daily which is why forest management tops our list of sustainability essentials. Forest management goes a long way in ensuring responsible printing. Choosing paper sourced from sustainable forests leverages plantings and forest management to mitigate deforestation. When selecting your sustainable paper, be sure to find out if it’s sourced from a sustainable forest and if it meets guidelines for renewable, recyclable, biodegradable or compostable material.  The use of recycled paper or paper sourced from sustainable forests can help you minimize your environmental impact and safeguard our forests essential to a vibrant, healthy environment.

Do Consider Nontoxic Inks

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from conventional commercial printing inks become vapors and gas when released into the air.  Printing with environmentally friendly inks can reduce VOC emissions and help keep the air we breathe safe and healthy. UV inks with no toxins are now available as are low-polluting inks and solvents made with vegetable-based and soy inks. Promotions printed on soy-based inks, for example, can be de-inked from paper making them easy to recycle. Looking for an alternative to varnish and UV coatings? Try water-based aqueous coating options that add texture and make images pop without harming the environment.  For example, an aqueous coating on a postcard can add durability and draw attention to images, and it can add a layer of protection when applied to business cards.

Don’t Be an Energy Hog

Part of reducing the carbon footprint in any industry includes energy efficiency which can help decrease heating, cooling and electricity consumption while lowering greenhouse gas emissions. High-speed web offset printers can keep costs down when they follow ENERGY STAR guidelines for energy management. Print facilities powered by a renewal energy source such as solar and wind can also reduce the carbon footprint, as can energy-efficient buildings with energy-saving lighting, water use and power management such as the T8 fluorescent lighting to reduce energy consumption used at Upper Valley Press.

Don’t Overproduce Waste

Commercial printing can produce a great deal of paper waste that can end up in landfills if not adequately managed and controlled. It’s estimated that paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste. Using commercial print technology that maximizes print runs can minimize the amount of paper waste—and potentially save money on print costs. Be sure to ask your printer if paper waste produced from a print run is shredded and recycled. Upper Valley Press, for example, recycles all paper and cardboard products, aluminum plates and plastic wrap and bands to reduce landfill impact.

Do Print Local

Location matters in sustainable print management. Using a commercial printer close to your geographic mail area can reduce the need to transport printed matter long distances, saving time, money and emissions. For targeted geographic distribution, choose a local printer like Upper Valley Press who can print and distribute direct mail or shared mail within New England — especially New Hampshire, Vermont and eastern New York state — with efficiency and sustainability.

Upper Valley Press works hard to be a good steward of the environment, practicing energy-efficient operations and using environmentally safe and responsible printing products to reduce the impact of commercial printing on the environment.  Contact us to find out more about our sustainable printing practices.