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Environmental Sustainability — The Greening of Print

January 2008 By Cheryl Adams
Managing Editor
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PRINTING USED to be synonymous with pollution. But, not anymore. One thing that’s constant in this world is change. And 2007 was a milestone year for earth-friendly initiatives in the commercial printing industry.

Last year, lots of printers of all sizes started turning green, while many others turned greener still.

Printing companies are becoming stewards of the environment… in the paper they buy, the ink they use and the less VOCs they emit.

New and improved vegetable-based inks and recycled paper grades are more available. Paper manufacturers and print providers are earning Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) chain-of-custody certifications. Printers and suppliers are turning to alternative energy sources, such as wind-power-generated electricity. These are but a few of the changes going on in today’s printing industry.

The mantra for 2007 (and, more than likely, 2008 and beyond) was “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.”

Better known as the “Three Rs,” more printers are committed to ingraining this sustainability motto into the minds of their employees—and are incorporating it into the very heart of their operations. Here are just a few examples:

McNaughton & Gunn
Saline, MI

The Three Rs are not only in daily practice at McNaughton & Gunn, they stand out like a banner ad in the printer’s Environmental Endsheet newsletter. The words, the symbols, the promise are also part of its Print Buying Guidelines.

“As a print buyer, you have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment,” the guidelines read. “One way to make a difference is to choose to do business with companies that practice sound environmental policies.”

McNaughton & Gunn has been committed to the environment since 1996, when it became the first printer in Michigan to be recognized for environmentally friendly practices by the Michigan Great Printers Project (MGPP), a statewide effort promoting pollution prevention.

“We’ve significantly reduced our amount of chemical wastewater, as well as the waste generated in the manufacturing process,” says Jim Clark, director of customer and business services, noting that the company accomplished these feats in a multitude of ways: by eliminating the use of 20,000 lbs. of isopropyl alcohol annually in the dampening systems on all presses; replacing chemical additive processes with aqueous-based plates; purchasing black ink in large bulk containers; modifying film processors to reduce wash water usage and to increase silver recovery; recycling aluminum printing plates; employing a scrap removal system and baler for recycling; and recycling plastic, including strapping from web press bundles and stretch and shrink wrapping.
 

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