Can Printing Really be Sustainable? (Pssst…Yes)

PUBLISHED: October 28, 2019

Sustainability is one of those buzzwords that gets used so often that it can sometimes feels like it’s losing meaning. But when it comes to printing, being truly sustainable is becoming a bigger deal to customers – and the industry has taken notice. From printers to product manufacturers, there are now many ways to reduce the guilt over your paper trail.

Here are a few real innovations in sustainable printing that you can ask for next time you need to print. Because if you’re going to use a tree, it’s just good karma to try and save one while you’re at it.

Ask About Printing Techniques
The first thing you can ask your printer (or look up on their website) is whether they do cold set or hot set printing. There are basically two ways of drying ink to the paper in the offset printing process, and cold set web presses are more eco-friendly. They use a lot less energy and don’t generate as many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as heat set presses. The other nice thing is that today’s more advanced cold set presses can deliver the same high-quality final product as their hot cousins.

Print on Sustainable Paper
This is probably the biggest one. You can recycle paper all day long, but it’s important to think about where your paper’s life started in the first place. Ask for paper that’s FSC-approved – that’s Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC is a global nonprofit that promotes responsible forestry, and paper only earns the FSC stamp if it meets their environmental and social standards.

Products made with wood and paper from FSC forests are marked with a small logo, and when you see it, you can be confident that what you’re buying didn’t harm the world’s forests. That little green logo means the paper started as wood from a sustainably managed forest or from post-consumer waste. Pretty cool, right?

Think About Your Ink
Who really thinks twice about ink? At home, your printer chirps, you spend $800 on a new cartridge, pop it in and you’re good to go. But in the commercial printing world, when thousands of pages fly off the press every day, using toxic or environmentally unfriendly inks is bad for everybody involved.

One great solution has been ultraviolet (UV) inks. Unlike solvent-based inks, UV inks don’t contain toxins. On top of that, they offer a bunch of other great benefits: they print well on both flexible and hard surfaces; they’re weather-resistant, so they last a lot longer outside on signs and banners; and you don’t need to bother with solvents, which are full of VOC toxins that just evaporate into the air. Choosing UV inks means you’re not making print shop employees breathe in awful byproducts. Isn’t being a better person fun?

To Print or Not to Print?
From shop equipment to paper to inks, the printing industry is making all kinds of great green strides towards sustainability. The world is definitely becoming paperless, but there are still a million reasons to print something. So, if you need things created the old-fashioned way and you’re interested in learning more about environmentally friendly printing, drop us a line.

For more information about sustainable printing, visit:

This article was originally published on Community Newspapers.


About Brand Poets

Founded by Tana M. Llinas, Brand Poets is a collective of strategists, visual storytellers, and digital artisans crafting smart, poignant campaigns that command attention. Instagram: @BrandPoets — Call: 786.732.7466


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