Printing practices are undeniably becoming more sustainable, but this is not just limited to using recycled paper.
Environmental pressures have meant that printing, like other industries have looked to refine their systems to maximise automation and efficiency while minimising waste. Both printing materials and technology have made print a sustainable and effective medium.
New media options and digital technology have led the way to new printing methods, so printing firms can help customers meet their commercial printing and environmental goals.
Digital printing doesn’t require a printing plate and as the ink sits on the top layer of the substrate, this process produces less waste. Another benefit of having no plate is that digital printing can be done quicker than other methods and smaller print runs are more cost effective. Using digital print technology enables on-demand printing, avoiding printing large volumes only to find something has changed.
Being more sustainable, digital printing is better for the environment, but needs to be used in conjunction with eco-friendly materials ethically sourced to further reduce the environmental impact.
Over recent years, different types of inks have been developed to be more eco-friendly and biodegradable while maintaining the colour and longevity. Digital printers can use toner made from plastic particles and plant-based biomass, while litho printers can operate on vegetable and soy based ink. These plant-based oils make the ink more biodegradable and are generally more affordable when printing in larger quantities.
We’re not just talking recycled paper, there are notable innovations when it comes to sustainable printing materials used. Recycled or other sustainable materials that are 100% biodegradable or recyclable and use little or no chemicals in the processing. PVC free banners are one example and are made from polypropylene, a recyclable thermoplastic polymer.
A printer using carbon balanced paper means the average CO2 created during the entire paper production and delivery is offset. Printing suppliers choosing this paper can give their customers a more environmentally friendly option for printing jobs. Carbon balanced paper, printed by a carbon balanced printer is one of the most sustainable print solutions available.
Not only is LED UV a great printing method for brochures, booklets, leaflets and promotional material, but it is also an exceptionally ‘green’ printing method. Using ultraviolet light instantly dries the print, leaving designs sharper and more vivid. The instant drying process doesn’t need an anti-set off powder spray or a sealing coat either. Furthermore, LED UV printing uses less power than traditional print-drying technology, and the instant on/off ability further reduces standby power and CO2 emissions.
While being in the printing business means that we can’t just stop printing and be totally paperless, we can use digital innovation and more sustainable printing techniques to become greener. By focussing on the three main elements of the printing process; the printing technology, the ink, and the print materials we can minimise the impact on our environment.
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