Questions to ask your printers, to ensure eco-friendly printing

Printing doesn’t have to be wasteful, or bad for the environment. Although we are now in a digital age, there is still very much a place for print; from pharmaceutical leaflets, to product packaging and magazines, printing is far from a dying industry. But that’s not to say that some printing methods are less environmentally-friendly than others. People are becoming increasingly aware of their carbon footprint and therefore taking more time to find an eco-friendly alternative to what may be considered the obvious off-the-shelf solution.

With this in mind, we have put together the key factors to consider when choosing the printers to print your artwork, as different companies’ methods vary more than you may realise.

Do you use vegetable-based inks?

There is a huge variety of ink types available on the market to printers these days, but vegetable and soy-based inks stand out as the most eco-friendly option, as these are significantly less damaging to the environment than the petroleum-based alternatives.

Unlike more chemically-based traditional inks, soy-based alternatives are gentler on the environment and produce high-quality images that are more easily removed during the recycling process; this makes them a far better alternative to petroleum-based inks, whose chemical compounds can leak into the earth and cause some environmental damage.

You could also opt for more water-based aqueous coatings for that high-gloss finish. UV coats can also be good if done in an energy-efficient manner.

When choosing a printer to work with, we would strongly recommend opting for a company which uses vegetable-based ink, as this is a renewable resource, unlike its petroleum-based counterpart. Not only does vegetable-based ink a renewable resource, but they also release fewer greenhouse gasses and are easier to remove during the recycling process. Any eco-friendly printers will use these organic neutralising solutions and filters to prevent solvents contaminating groundwater and soil.

Do you use recycled/recyclable paper?

We are extremely fortunate that there is such a vast array of recycled, and recyclable, paper to choose from for our printing projects. Remember, recycled paper can still be crisp and white!

The best sort is papers that include pre-consumer recycled content and sourced responsibly from well-managed forests and tree foundations, all with chlorine-free processing. Paper that has post-consumer recycled elements might not be the most ecological option, depending on what waste was produced in making it, such as the bleach involved to clean it.

There are some really exciting seeded papers gradually becoming available on the market to printing companies; these can be printed and watered, and the seeds within the paper will grow! We love this wild seed paper as it’s so versatile, and perfect for wedding invitations so guests can grow their own confetti!

Take a look here at this eco-friendly seeded paper packaging we created for Haekles for inspiration!

Will you run test prints of my work before printing the full order?

Some large online printing companies will print your artwork without checking it. Although their costs may be low, if you receive 1,000 of your new business cards only to discover that the colour of the telephone number can’t be read against the background, or that there is a typo on your email address, then you’re essentially paying double to have them printed all over again - and the first batch will, inevitably, end up in the bin.

Instead of using the cheapest printers you can find online, take the time to choose an independent supplier who will assure you that they will check your artwork and run a few test prints. Here at Lanes Printers, we are perfectionists and we endeavour to get your printing right first time.

Do you print in-house?

Finally, another way to reduce your carbon footprint with your printing jobs is to shop local. Many large online printers use overseas printers. Instead of having your printed materials flown tens of thousands of miles across the world, try searching for a printing company within the county you’re based in.

Do you have the 14001 Accreditation?

The 14001 is the International Standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS). Businesses with the 14001 Accreditation are demonstrating their commitment to protecting the environment. You can find out more about what this entails here.

Where to start?

Many businesses who come to us share our concern, but aren’t always sure if the methods they choose are environmentally-friendly enough to reach that goal. Are you looking for environmentally-friendly printers? We are happy to answer any questions you may have to alleviate your concerns about the impact that the printing process will have on the environment.

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