With more pressure being put on governments globally to decrease their dependency on fossil fuels and neutralise their carbon footprint in order to avoid a climate catastrophe, how has the print industry addressed their sustainability credentials? For many years fingers have been pointed at the print industry as major polluters of the environment, not just through deforestation but the chemicals and processes involved turning wood into paper. These accusations wouldn’t be without justification but in recent times the print industry has been one of the leaders in promoting a circular economy and safe-guarding natural forests.
Two such initiatives include the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) certification schemes that can be found on all types of timber and paper products. By purchasing wood or paper products with either of these logos you can be reassured that the product you are using has come from a sustainable forest source.
Whilst these certification schemes are a massive step forward, on a localised level many printers have also taken action to make the industry more environmentally friendly.
For a start a lot of inks are now vegetable or soy based. Vegetable-based inks make recycling easier as it’s simpler to manage the de-inking process. With no volatile compounds released during or after print this means that long term side effects of working with these inks are also negated.
On-demand printing has removed the need for excess print to be stored on shelves only to be thrown away after gathering dust for months or even years. With new technologies available we’ve moved away from a one size fits all model of printing with many printers using fulfilment software to see exactly what needs to be printed and by when. This use of technology also reduces the carbon footprint associated with each delivery as there is zero wastage involved.
Recycling policies are now common place, whereas once all excess or misprinted paper would end up in landfill nowadays printers have a formal policy in place where waste paper will be collected on a regular basis for recycling and will find its way back into the circular economy.
Having fun with seeded paper. These papers are relatively in their infancy and whilst they won’t be suitable for every job they do make us think about rubbish and how we dispose of it. With a germination shelf life of around two years this paper can be used for any print project and when buried will produce either flowers or veggies, enhancing our garden or community.
And if you meet someone who you don’t like but their business card is printed on seeded paper you can bury them legitimately. Good for the environment and good for your stress levels!