Greening of Print — Saving Earth, Saving Money
PRINTERS, ONCE considered polluters by virtue of their manufacturing processes, are vigorously cleaning up their acts by using technologies, papers and inks that are sustainable--and recycling, reusing and reducing nearly everything that's not. And, for many printing business owners, their efforts to save the earth can even save (and make) them cold, hard cash. In today's eco-friendly frenzy, greening up can subsequently mean more "greenbacks."
Printing Impressions contacted green printers from major metropolitan cities to small town America that report "social responsibility" as the No. 1 reason why they are becoming stewards of sustainability. By implementing a wide range of initiatives--which include everything from installing more efficient, eco-friendly presses, to using low- and no-VOC inks and chemicals, to being chain-of-custody certified--these companies are concerned about doing "the right thing." After all, a cleaner, greener environment benefits everyone.
However, the "side effect" is that while they are protecting the planet, they may also be paving the road to increased profitability.
Fineline Printing Group, Indianapolis, believes that being a green printer is good for the environment and good for business.
"While the environment is very important to us, so is staying in business," says Shawn Smith, director of marketing and public relations. "From a business point of view, being green helps reduce cost, improves overall product quality and worker health and safety--and it opens up whole new markets that had been previously untapped. How many other programs in business can have all three of these benefits?"
Fineline has incorporated many green initiatives into its operation, but most of them center around the work the printer is doing for the Sustainable Green Printing (SGP) Partnership as a Beta site printer for the program. "What we like about the SGP is that it focuses on the actual sustainability within the printing process itself. FSC and SFI only look at the paper and its source, but SGP is covering things like the waste and energy used during production."
Fineline Printing is also a certified EPA Green Power Partner, purchasing and utilizing green energy, and it also uses EcoSmart inks.
Interestingly, Smith claims that Fineline isn't simply "going green," it's "growing green," and he believes the company is on to something.
"By reducing our waste, we're purchasing less and, therefore, we're saving money. By reusing materials instead of throwing them away, we're saving money. And by recycling, we're not hauling away as much waste; so, again, we're saving money."
Fineline has also found that there's an entire market of print buyers out there looking for sustainable vendors. "Many companies are also beginning to explore their sustainability, and one of the easiest ways to grow green is to purchase from those who are green," Smith says. "Within a week of formally introducing our growing green program, we had a designer we'd never worked with before give us a large amount of work, simply because the customer demanded it be printed 'green.' Our green program paid for itself before we really even got it off the ground!"
So, just how much money is Fineline Printing actually saving?
"We're saving a ton of money on our recycling efforts alone," Smith reveals. "We have a filter/recycling unit in prepress that reduces chemical usage, saving us $8,000 a year. Recycling paper and cardboard saves us a whopping $57,000. Recycling press towels saves us $5,800 a year. Recycling press plates: $12,000 a year. And using old ink to remix black saved us $2,500 last year."
Metzgers Printing + Mailing, Toledo, OH, was recently featured on the city's local NBC and ABC affiliates, where the company's president, Joe Metzgers, was interviewed about an announcement that Metzgers Printing was "the first green printer in Northwest Ohio."
Born as a "type house" in the mid 1970s, Metzgers Printing + Mailing has survived by thinking along the lines of what Metzgers calls "EvolutionSolutions," which is a mindset where the business evolves to become a new company, by providing new and innovative graphic arts and marketing solutions--in this case, green ones.
Being a green printer is saving the company money, Metzgers says, claiming that his business has been more profitable by saving money on paper through reduced spoilage, "which will, ultimately, generate more profits."
Metzgers' green measures: metal, aluminum and paper recycling; alcohol-free and digital printing; reducing paper spoilage through press automation, upgrades and process improvements; reduced ink usage; and GRACoL G7 certification.
Marketing strategies to gain customers who are also making an effort to "go green" has brought in additional sales and new business leads, which is driving additional revenue growth.
"Doing the right things, at the right time, and making good decisions for our customers, our employees and our environment is the foundation of our business," Metzgers says. "If profits come as a direct reflection of these things, then we are definitely doing the right thing!"
Tukaiz LLC, Franklin Park, IL, is a full-service marketing communications provider that works with some of the largest corporations and ad agencies in the world. As a family owned and operated business, Team Tukaiz is "always conscious of how the positive actions of one can affect the greater good, making our commitment to the sustainability of our planet a natural progression of the family mentality," explains Frank Defino Jr., vice president and marketing director. "To help fulfill our commitment to environmental responsibility, we employ a number of green initiatives."
These include being tri-certified by the FSC, SFI and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC); recycling paper and aluminum; and using eco-solvent, UV, UV hybrid and soy-based inks.
While Defino contends that implementing green measures doesn't "generate cash" for Tukaiz, he admits the firm is experiencing heightened profitability. "Many of our clients are seeking vendors that are FSC/SFI/PEFC certified. Only certified vendors are able to participate. This has helped increase some of our printing projects with clients."
"Being a green printer means you have undergone an evolution of sustainable industry advancements. Advancements in efficiency and effectiveness have led to less waste, fewer harmful chemicals and finding value in the most obscure places," contends Don Mader, CEO of Southeastern Printing, Stuart, FL.
"Being a green printer means we consider all aspects of our business. Being green is not just about paper and ink--these are merely items purchased from vendors. It is what we do with these products that determines our level of greenness."
Southeastern's green initiatives include: FSC certification; implementing online quoting and proofing systems; incorporating a CTP workflow; plate making with biodegradable chemistry; alcohol-free printing; utilizing a solvent recovery system; purchasing equipment that eliminates fountain solution dumps and extends fountain solution life; using vegetable-based and VOC-free inks; and recycling plates and paper.
Southeastern's most significant green initiative is its own trademarked printing program called "Green ink," which incorporates the printer's daily green practices, along with offering client-friendly tools--such as design resources, paper selection and marketing ideas. The company also tracks all of a client's printing, from business cards to books, and outputs a report summarizing its environmental savings, including how many trees, how many BTUs of energy, pounds of greenhouse gases, gallons of water and pounds of solid waste were saved by printing on recycled content paper. Additionally, customers who choose to print using the "Green ink" program are "rewarded" by Southeastern's donations to plant trees on their behalf.
Mader points out that all of Southeastern's green investments involve technology and products that are more efficient and effective. "Efficiency equals cost savings; efficiency equals less waste, which equals green; green equals cost savings," he adds. "We think green and operate green, day in and day out," he says. "No 'green-washing' here."
"Being a green printer is a complex subject--one that will continue to evolve for years to come," says Michael Wurst, president of Henry Wurst Inc., headquartered in North Kansas City, MO, with facilities in Colorado and North Carolina. "Taking prudent steps now to lower our carbon footprint is not only the right thing to do, it's just good business."
Henry Wurst's green initiatives, many of which have been in place for years, include: lean manufacturing; an automated press cleaning process that efficiently collects and manages waste; recycling paper (shredded and baled daily), printing plates, plastic, shrink wrap, corrugated board and skids; in-house ink technicians to manage all recycle and reuse programs; using soy- and other vegetable-based inks; reducing emissions beyond standard regulations; conserving energy during peak times/seasons; comprehensive green office efforts; and creation of a sustainability council.
"To keep the momentum of our efforts strong," Wurst explains, "we partner with vendors who share our vision of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We use everything from eco-friendly ink, proactive press maintenance processes and innovative recycling efforts for paper, ink and plastic to minimize our carbon footprint every day.
"It's difficult to show the profit and/or savings benefit; rather, the benefits are seen in our ability to maintain and grow business."
Robert Fox, vice president of sales and marketing at Allen Press, Lawrence, KS, notes that his company's core clientele include environmental and earth science journals. "Increasingly, client interests and goals include being environmentally responsible and working with partners and vendors who are environmentally responsible. It is our mission to respond to this and proactively provide solutions and options. Various customers seek us out as a result of our environmental initiatives."
Green initiatives at Allen Press include: offseting carbon emissions; FSC certification; offering chlorine-free and recycled house paper stock; recycling paper and aluminum printing plates; a digital workflow and online proofing; using soy inks; and hosting green workshops.
"Our facility conservation efforts help us reduce both our energy use and waste, thereby resulting in operational savings," Fox says. "Many of the initiatives we have put into place have a longer-term return on investment. Our 'green' efforts are important to our customers and their overall satisfaction."
Ed Rothchild, an AlphaGraphics franchise owner with three locations in Colorado, says being a green printer is critical for him personally, for his business and for his customers. "The Denver area is one that is very environmentally conscious and, as such, our efforts are a great match for the demands of our biggest customers."
Before taking up a career in printing 12 years ago, Rothchild spent two decades as a hydrogeologist and environmental engineer involved with environmental assessments and cleanup. "So. . . yes," he says, "being green is in my blood. And, for my business, it is just the right thing to do. We save money, have the support of our staff and simply feel better about what we do."
As for saving or making money, Rothchild believes that being more conscientious about the waste of paper and electricity will no doubt bring his costs down in these areas. In addition, the printer is using and buying equipment that is more efficient in terms of makeready waste and power consumption, which will also reduce costs.
Green initiatives for Rothchild include: FSC certification; acquiring carbon credits to offset 125 percent of annual carbon emissions; various recycling efforts; transitioning to papers that contain 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, are chlorine free and are often produced using wind power; installing DI digital offset presses and online proofing systems; using vegetable-based inks; and being ISO certified.
The environmentalist-turned-printer doesn't have an exact figure on how much his company is financially benefitting by employing green practices, but he doesn't hesitate to hazard a guess. "In our market, a significant portion of our new growth will be because of our environmental standards. For maintaining several of our largest customers, adopting high environmental standards is a given."
Based on his vast environmental experience, Rothchild stresses: "It is critical that 'saving the earth' is market driven. As such, everyone will both save money and solve critical problems. The consciousness is raised by individuals, but the solutions and impact are driven by business and institutions." PI