Five Ideas for Becoming A More Sustainable Printing Business

As you adopt more automated systems to handle everyday tasks such as estimating, order management, proof approvals, and job tracking, you and your staff will gain time to focus on other elements of your business. For example, you can explore new ways to become a more sustainable printing business.

Ten years ago, the number of print shops promoting themselves as “green” was relatively small. Few print buyers were willing to pay extra for eco-friendly materials and the limited selection of environmentally friendly print materials didn’t always produce great-looking prints.

Today, many print shops now how a full page on their website that shows clients everything the shop is doing to run more sustainable operations. And many manufacturers of printing materials have been innovating to create environmentally friendly products that don’t sacrifice print quality.

Becoming more sustainable makes good business sense because many manufacturers and brands now report improvements in sustainability as part of their corporate social responsibility metrics. These brands want print-service providers who can help meet those metrics.

Here are five ideas for becoming a more sustainable printing business.

Get acquainted with the Sustainable Green Partnership (SGP).

SGP is a non-profit organization that certifies printing facilities that use best practices for sustainability, including efforts that go beyond regulatory compliance. Created by the printing industry for the printing industry, SGP takes into account practices within your entire print facility, including your processes, products, and social areas.or

Even if your shop isn’t ready for the auditing processes required for SGP certification, you can read articles about some of the business results other print businesses are achieving.

For example, The Shepard Company, a full-service event production company, is striving to help reduce the 600,000 tons of waste produced by the events industry annually. Shepard’s eight SGP-certified printing facilities have reduced operating expenses by storing and reusing event graphics, choosing environmentally friendly options for lighting and energy, and decreasing landfill waste and increasing recycling.

Bolger, a Minnesota-based company that is unifying the power of printed and digital communications, has been SGP-certified since 2017. In 2018, Bolger worked with community partners to eliminate waste and monetize recycling. Recycling more than 10,000 pounds of solid waste also led to a 20 percent cost savings for the facility.

Test new advances in printing materials and display systems.

Suppliers are making substantial progress in developing environmentally friendly options for the inks and materials used to print documents, packaging, banners, backlit graphics, wall murals, event graphics, and trade-show displays. New innovations include biodegradable PVC materials for banners and recyclable rigid boards made recycled waste materials.

Listen to your customers.

Some manufacturers of environmentally friendly materials are working directly with brands and creative services agencies to make them aware of new options for printing retail signage, event graphics, packaging, and marketing collateral.

Keep up with changes in regulations.

Associations such as SGIA follow the development of federal and state environmental regulations that affect processes used by printing companies. SGIA experts can provide guidance related to the control of toxic substances, air permitting issues, air pollution control regulations, hazardous waste and the control of toxic substances.

Last April, SGIA experts led a free webinar entitled “Proposition 65 is Just the Beginning.”

Manufacturers and distributors of printing supplies can also help you learn more about environmental regulations that affect potential customers such as architects, builders, interior designers, and exhibition producers and hospitality companies.

Follow environmental organizations that influence your clients.

For example, the Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization that is helping manufacturers and retailers, and service providers deliver more sustainable products to consumers. They collaborate with governmental agencies, academics, and non-governmental organizations to use the best sustainability science to make everyday consumer products better and more sustainable.

TSC encourages brands and manufacturers to use selected sustainability performance metrics to evaluate environmental progress within their supply chains. Members of TSC include retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger and manufacturers such as Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, P&G, Pepsico, Johnson & Johnson, and General Mills.

Following environmental organizations such as TSC can help you keep abreast of changes in environmental science, regulations, and proposed solutions. This can help you create more credible educational content or sales messages that will resonate with prospects and print buyers seeking partners who share their commitment to sustainable practices.

Keeping up with the changing expectations of your clients requires that you manage your day-to-day operations in the most efficient way possible. Ordant’s cloud-based software makes it easy and efficient to create estimates, manage incoming orders, and reduce the risk of errors due to inaccurate job data. With our customer relationship management and job-tracking tools, you can address the specific sustainability concerns of individual customers or track any production issues that arise when running jobs on new types of print materials.

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