Sustainability in Printing

Sustainability in Printing

Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Even with the increased drive for innovation especially in the digital space during this Fourth Industrial Revolution, more companies and individuals are opting for sustainable printing techniques.

If you are a champion for taking care of the environment, what sustainable printing does is that it provides a balance between your operational needs against environmental concerns.

Integrating sustainability to your company’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) plans helps employees, suppliers, management and directors to align with your corporate goals. This is both economically and environmentally.

Goal 12 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Sustainable Consumption and Production and Goal 13, Climate Action can also be what leads a company or individual to reduce waste through reducing, recycling and reusing.

In printing, paper waste is unavoidable, however, printers can sometimes use their unused white paper which is referred to as “clean waste” and transform this into new and useful product. Useful recycling material is clean waste as it only has minimal stains of ink. It can be recycled up to three times because it is first-generation paper.

In a nut shell, when a printing company purchases locally made paper or recycled paper, this helps reduce the environmental footprint. Global warming is also prevented as this method of printing involves less fossil fuels in transportation which in turn generates less greenhouse gas emissions.

Stone paper has also been introduced as an even better sustainable method of printing as it is earth friendly, 100% recyclable and tree free. Stone paper is a type of paper that is made out of calcium carbonate 80% (limestone) and bio-polyethylene resin 20% (HDPE). In this case, the HDPE is used as a binder. Thereby, limestone from existing limestone quarries is being used as the raw material and processed into a fine powder. The colour of Stone paper is originally white; therefore, it does not require any further bleaching process. Because of its high density, stone paper products also retain their shape over time.

It is also important to note that environmental awareness is not the same thing as being sustainable, going green is about reducing the environmental costs of economic activity and other human impacts, such as proper disposal of human waste. Sustainability, on the other hand, goes deeper than harm reduction; it is the ability of a system to survive indefinitely, by not using or abusing resources faster than its ability to replenish itself.

A more sustainable economy, therefore, is one with a smaller gap between its use/abuse of resources and the Earth’s ability to renew them. Some green techniques, though good on their own merits, do not reduce this gap. In other words: all sustainable systems are green, but not all green systems are sustainable.

What are you doing in your line of work or at home to improve and create sustainability?