Being ‘Green’ Pays Dividends
‘Green Is Not a Fad’
The John Roberts Co. (Minneapolis) promotes its environmental efforts in a brochure that declares, “Green is not a fad color…It’s a corporate commitment.” In the late 1980s, John Roberts established an Environmental and Safety Committee in response to growing concerns about air emissions from petroleum-based inks, wetting agents and cleaning solvents, as well as water discharges from the processing of graphic arts films. The committee subsequently instituted procedures regarding the recovery and recycling of solvents, and the use of alcohol substitutes, as well as silver recovery and water wash recirculation.
The company implemented an Environmental Management System modified to conform to ISO 14000 requirements in 1993. Early on, the printer voluntarily sought environmental auditing, corrective action and public disclosure, efforts that led to a partnership with the Printing Industry of Minnesota and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. John Roberts became the model for Minnesota’s Green Star Program and was one of the first to earn Minnesota Green Star status in 1997, a designation it continually renews.
More recently, John Roberts Co. earned Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain-of-custody certification through SmartWood, an FSC-accredited body. For customers wishing to have their jobs run using electricity from wind power, John Roberts will purchase a corresponding amount of wind-powered energy through Windsource, Xcel Energy’s green pricing program.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, buying a 100-kWh block of Windsource for a year is equivalent to planting a one-third acre of trees or not driving a car 2,000 miles. In addition to formal, independent audits of its facility by the Printing Industry of Minnesota’s Environmental Services Corp., John Roberts also reports the results of regular internal inspections to the management at monthly meetings of the Environmental and Safety Committee.
According to John Roberts Co. President Michael Keene, the company’s web offset presses use a regenerative thermal oxidizer by Maratek that destroys VOCs and expends just 10 percent of the fuel consumed by the company’s previous system. A solvent recovery system in its alcohol-free sheetfed pressroom yields clean solvent, water and sludge, which is subsequently recycled for fuel blending. The company also uses soy-based ink manufactured from a mixture of vegetable oils (linseed, corn) by its in-house ink supplier, Ink Systems.