It’s Not Easy Being Green

Other Posts and Nichole Jones
Feb 5, 2009

Or is it? An InfoTrends study (ODS/PWCCS clients see results here) on green printing and sustainability conducted in the second quarter of 2008 found that more than half of print service providers claim to have implemented green policies. But what does being green really mean?

Some print service providers are publishing press releases that boast their efforts to be environmentally friendly by adopting soft proofing. I suppose soft-proofing can be considered environmentally-friendly since the consumables, energy, and transportation costs associated with hard-proofs are eliminated. Digital printing can also be considered green as on-demand printing results in printing only what is necessary, thus eliminating waste. Some digital and offset print buyers are demanding more by implementing green policies by requesting sustainable harvested forest products, post-consumer waste papers, and chlorine-free bleaching products from their service providers.

Other service providers are demonstrating environmentally-friendly practices by purchasing renewable energy credits from their power company. Not every business can change its operations to run on wind, solar, or hydroelectric energy, but any company can purchase credits that support renewable energy. Renewable energy credits provide financial support for the operation of renewable energy plants. For every credit purchased, a unit of renewable energy is produced and fed into the power grid.

Going further, printers can pursue a variety of environmentally-friendly certifications. ISO 14001:2004 registration requires that procedures are documented and actively managed throughout all operations to minimize negative impacts on the environment. Various Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs include pledges to reduce your carbon footprint and waste reduction strategies. Common chain of custody certifications for print service providers, such as certifications from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), require paper resources to be accounted for throughout the production process. These certifications allow print service providers the opportunity to use FSC and SFI logos on their products and to boast about their commitment to support the environment.

The service providers that are really showing their green commitment are active in green organizations and helping promote environmentally friendly initiatives on a national level or in their local community. SustainCommWorld provides information and knowledge-sharing forums focused on developing green workflows and lowering carbon footprints. The organization also hosts a social networking site to connect green professionals. The EPA also encourages and recognizes organizations that go above and beyond legal environmental requirements.


Being green can be easy, but its clear that environmnetally-friendly policies vary significantly depending on the “shade” of green print service providers strive to be.





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