Sustainable Printing: How It Can Help Your Company Grow & Thrive

By Drew Galvin on March 3, 2023

A well-dressed man examining a printed piece of paper. He's in a workshop, ostensibly related to paper printing.

Sustainability is the talk nowadays, and for a good reason. Consumers want to support companies that promote environmental awareness and green initiatives because these missions align with the modern consumer’s core values. When it comes to sustainable printing, businesses in all industries can control what they put into the environment, and it doesn’t have to come at the expense of efficiency or quality.

We’ll cover the importance of sustainability in business and provide 5 ways your business can “go green” in its commercial printing.

The Importance Of Sustainability In Business

1. It Minimizes Your Environmental Impact.

Sustainability in business is the practice of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It incorporates environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into business decision-making and operations. Ultimately there are 3 key reasons why building sustainable practices in your business matters.

The most obvious benefit to choosing sustainable processes (such as eco-friendly printing) is that you’re reducing your business’ carbon emissions and waste, as well as helping conserve natural resources. All of this is key in mitigating the effects of climate change.

2. It Provides You With Economic Benefits.

Younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z (which combined together make up around 50% of the current workforce) are very conscious about the products they choose. In a compilation of data about how this generation is driving ESG initiatives, Nasdaq states:

  • 75% of Millennials will change their buying habits to support environmentally conscious brands.
  • Three-quarters of Gen Z state they value sustainability more than brand names.

Shifting to sustainable practices can ultimately do more than improve your reputation. It can help you attract customers, especially among the younger generations of consumers and decision makers.

3. It Increases Your Long-Term Viability.

Increasingly, the government is putting more incentives in place for those who opt for sustainability. Considering the long-term impact of your operations and deciding to implement more eco-friendly practices where possible can ensure you’re ready for whatever the future brings between lawmakers and the expectations of future constituents.

The Importance Of Sustainable Printing

Sustainable commercial printing is becoming important as companies look to reduce their environmental impact and align with green initiatives. Print materials (like brochures, flyers, and business cards) are a necessity for many businesses, but the printing process can have a significant impact on the environment

A few of the potentially harmful impacts include:

  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals from ink polluting soil or water.
  • Plastics, if not recycled, can take decades to decompose depending on material composition and sun exposure.
  • Paper, if not recycled, could end up in landfills.
  • Resource extraction from biodiverse regions could lead to species population decline.

Fortunately, you can find partners who value and have embraced sustainable printing materials and processes to help lessen the environmental effects. Below, we’ll explain the specifics of what eco-friendly printing looks like and what options are at your disposal.

Printer ink is lined up sequentially by color from pink and blue to purple and yellow. There is a beautiful printed piece of paper with pinks and purples in the background.

5 Ways To Ensure Your Business Is Doing Sustainable Printing

If you’re going to opt for a more eco-friendly process for your business printing, it’s important to know what that actually means. When it comes to working with a sustainable commercial printer, understanding the details will help you find a partner who actually aligns with your values.

#1 Ask Your Printing Partner About Their Use Of Low Volatile Organic Compounds

Low VOC (volatile organic compounds) press solvents are an important aspect of sustainable commercial printing. VOCs are chemicals that evaporate easily at room temperature and can have negative effects on air quality and human health.

Having the job completed in a location with proper ventilation and low temperatures and humidity can help. However, choosing to use low-VOC press solvents also has positive benefits. These solvents are formulated to emit fewer VOCs and can help to improve air quality in the printing facility and surrounding area.

#2 Opt For Soy-Based Inks From Your Printing Partner

One of the most significant benefits of sustainable commercial printing is the use of soy-based inks. Traditional printing inks are made from petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource and contributes to air pollution.

Soy-based inks, on the other hand, are made from soybeans, a renewable and biodegradable resource that produces fewer emissions during the printing process. Soy-based inks also produce sharper, more vibrant colors and can help to extend the life of printed materials.

Plus, if you compare the VOCs between the two, soybean ink contains 20% fewer VOCs than petroleum ink. So making the switch means your printing activity is less likely to contribute to soil and water pollution.

#3 Choose FSC-Certified Or Recycled Substrates

Another important aspect of sustainable commercial printing is the use of sustainably sourced or recycled substrates. (Substrates are the materials on which print is applied, such as paper or cardstock.)

Opting for recycled substrates reduces the demand for virgin materials and helps to conserve natural resources. However, if you want to use new materials, FSC-certified substrates may be a better option for your printing.

When your materials are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified, it means that those products are produced from responsibly managed forests in a way that adheres to the FSC’s criteria.

FSC Certification is an acknowledgment that sustainability includes making eco-friendly choices and setting standards that positively impact working conditions and community relations. The FSC criteria includes:

  • Monitoring the environmental impact to conserve water resources, soil, the ecosystems, and landscapes to maintain the ecological functions and integrity of the forest.
  • Recognizing and respecting the rights of indigenous people to own, use, and manage lands and the resources.
  • Building positive community relations.

The FSC’s criteria are a good reminder that sustainability is about a lot more than just making eco-friendly choices. Their standards also encompass the working conditions and community relations surrounding businesses and their supply chains. 

#4 Use Eco-Friendly Consumables For Your Own In-Office Printers

Eco-friendly consumables, such as toner and ink cartridges, are another important aspect of sustainable commercial printing. Many traditional toner and ink cartridges are not recyclable and can harm the environment. According to the Recycling Factory, up to 350 million cartridges are sent to landfills and the plastic on the casing of them can take 400 – 1000 years to decompose.

Eco-friendly consumables are designed to be recycled or biodegradable, which is a great way to combat the issue we outlined above. Some manufacturers will even accept recycled cartridges and re-manufacture them up to three or four more times, reducing the need for new consumables each time.

Cardboard boxes are stacked on top of each other in a pile. On the side of each box, a green leaf decal is printed in reference to going green.

#5 Work With A Sustainable Commercial Printer

It’s important to work with a knowledgeable printing partner, especially if you’re new to sustainable printing. Working with an experienced team ensures that the results align with your goals and also deliver the right outcome, on time.

Whether you’re deciding between soy-based inks, recycled substrates, or eco-friendly cartridges, our team of experts will guide you to the best options to meet your needs, schedule, and budget.

Are you looking for an affordable way to provide customers with other types of items that are eco-friendly and branded but not a burden on your budget? At Safeguard by Innovative, we’ve been offering a variety of printing solutions for years. As a result, we’ve helped many clients navigate finding the right eco-friendly printing solutions for their projects. 

Our team makes it easy to find an option that fits your end goal, budget, and timeline for printing. That way you end up with a sustainably printed piece on time, within budget, and perfectly produced to match your vision.

Need help with sustainable printing services? Contact us today and tell us what you need.