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Sustainable Printing Is More Than Recycled Paper

Using recycled paper is essential in moving toward more sustainable printing, but it’s not the only one! For those who want to be friendly to the earth, here are five other ways to incorporate sustainability when designing and ordering print materials.

1. Keep virgin fiber in the loop. While this might sound counter-intuitive, virgin fiber is a crucial component of the recycled paper stream. Recycled paper can only be recycled a limited number of times before the fibers become too short and weak for further use. Adding virgin fiber into the process is necessary to ensure that those papers maintain high quality.

2. Use environmentally certified paper. Environmental paper certifications are granted to paper products that meet specific environmental standards. These certifications are awarded by independent third-party organizations and are based on criteria related to sustainable forestry practices, recycled content, and environmental impact. Some of the most recognized ecological paper certifications include the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

3. Use environmentally friendly inks and coatings. Water-based and vegetable-based inks and coatings are typically made from renewable resources or recycled materials, reducing their environmental impact compared to traditional petroleum-based products. They often contain fewer of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are harmful to both human health and the environment. Environmentally friendly inks and coatings are formulated to be biodegradable or easily recyclable, reducing their environmental impact after use. They are also less likely to contain heavy metals or other hazardous chemicals.

4. Don’t laminate. If you’re specing packaging, try to avoid designs that require lamination. Once plastic film is laminated to paper, that paper becomes much more difficult for mills to depulp and reuse.

5. Clean and de-dupe your mailing list. Nothing says “waste” like undeliverable mail. Keep your mailing list accurate, up-to-date, and free of duplicates for the lowest environmental footprint.

Sustainability is more important than ever, and there are so many different ways you can approach it. Using any of these steps will move you toward more earth-friendly print marketing, and for the best results, talk to us about using a multi-pronged approach!