Industry must meet global standards and expectations of consumers
With rising consumer and corporate sentiment on the need to protect and enhance our environment the question becomes whether it is possible to have a positive ROI by leading the sustainability challenge.
Overseas markets in the USA , Singapore , Japan and Australia are already well advanced in this area with many government and corporate contracts stipulating as a core requirement minimum environmental performance credentials.
Corporate social responsibility reports and government green procurement policies are set to make an impact on whether the individual printers can maintain their client base and secure new high caliber work now that environmental performance is going to become an increasing factor in job allocation. But what does it mean to be a “Green Printer” and how can a single industry player best extract the value and minimize the costs of entry into the green marketplace?
The best approach is to become realistic about the actual environmental loads and impacts of a printing job. The assessment of actual environmental impacts is known as a life cycle assessment (LCA) of the production and product cycles. On printing product LCAs that have been done, a number of key factors come pout as most significant including the choice of paper and the emission and chemicals from stages pf printing such as page and printing from production, printing and finishing all generating air and water emissions and waste treatment.
Green printed matter products are environmentally preferable because they reduce the sourcing of wood pulp for production from virgin or unsustainably managed native forests. They also lower environmental impacts through reducing energy; water and chemical use throughout the printing and production process, and when recycled, reduce both the volume and toxicity of waste going to landfill.
So what are some of the key measures which define a green print publication?
Collection of page production photographic chemicals and hazardous waste to an approved waste processor for recycling.
Treatment on rinsing solution prior to discharge to the sewage system or collection and no discharge to sewage.
The use of only water-based plate developing agents for offset printing plates or no plate developing agents being used.
The use of no –UV inks with a preference for vegetable dyes and include and vegetable-based overprint varnish.
Minimising the use of washing agent in production with a target of a maximum of 1 litre/tonne of paper for wet offset, 1.6 litre/tonne of paper for heatset and 2.4 litres/tonne of paper for sheet feed printing.
Minimising the levels of solvent in washing agents.
Minimising the use of alcohol per kg/tonnes of paper.
All waste water to be collected for treatment by a waste contractor or treated and cleaned prior to release.
The collection and recycling of all electronic consumables and toner for digital printing systems.
The use of water based adhesives in lamination and binding.
The design of printed matter so that cutting waste is minimised.
The use of low toxicity production. Auxiliary and washing agent chemicals.
The use of low toxicity inks, toner and pigments.
The effective use of a quality production system to minimize waste runs.
The use of non chlorine based plastic wrapping for print jobs at delivery.
The use pf recycled and sustainable managed forest fibre printing paper for print jobs.
Implementing a green printing production system as outlined above will ensure that a Green printer will have:
Reduced discharge of certain toxic or other wise polluting substances into water,
Reduced environmental damage or risks related to the use of energy and direct pollutants (global warming, acidification, ozone depletion, depletion of non-renewable resources) by reducing energy consumption and related emissions to air,
Reduced environmental damage or human health risks related to the use of hazardous chemicals, and
Sustainable management principles in order to reduce demand for unsustainable forestry products.
Those leading printers which drive sustainability in the industry often move away from self declaration and self promotion of their environmental credentials but instead give confidence to their customer's through independent assurance and accreditation. Such accreditation gives independent confidence to customers that the operation has been inspected and these critical environmental claims are actually real in this printing operation.
Only a few companies in the print industry who claim to be “green” truly are. Most printers claim to be “green” simply because they use FSC or PEFC certified paper or use soy based inks. These factors are only small part of the story. For printers that seek to gain new work by governments and companies committed to a green agenda they must move into these new markets as leaders and give confidence to their customers. In many cases the customers own reputation is affected by the environmental integrity of their publication production. It is the critical material that their consumers, shareholders and industry partners receive.
To aid in this process a Global Environmental Choice Standard has been developed that allows for printers and their operations to be checked for their ability to delivery green printed products. The accreditation is product specific and gives assurance to the customer that their print job is green and give confidence by allowing the use of an independent certification mark confirming that the printed product has been checked. The mark awarded is the “Global Environmental Choice Mark” after an independent audit.
This Standard is voluntary environmental labeling standard which specifies requirements for printed matter in a range of products sectors. The primary purpose of this standard is to define environmental performance criteria for various printed matter products. Eco-labelled printed matter products are environmentally preferable because they reduce the sourcing of wood pulp for production from virgin or unsustainably managed native forest and lower environmental impacts through reducing energy, water and chemical use throughout the printing and production process and, when recycled, reduce both the volume and toxicity of waste going to landfill. Printers able to comply with this standard can demonstrate environmental preferability over their peers. This standard applies to the following categories of printed matter that are manufactured by means of sheet fed, web (coldest), heatset offset, rotogravure, flexography, digital printing and letterpress printing. This standard applies to printed matter in which the main raw materials are packaging paper or printing paper including:
Journals, Reports, Books other publications,
Printed matter for advertising purposes, catalogues, brochures, posters
Telephone directories and books,
Notepads, notebooks, forms and envelopes,
Leaflets inserts, binders, folders, and
Packaging and labels
Product requirements apply to the final printed matter which may be finished, e.g., stapled and bound.
Extracts from PRINT