Sustainability in Commercial Printing

Any responsible business today understands the need to be environmentally conscious. The days of wasteful business practices and a lack of concern for the environment are long gone. Most consumers today prefer to purchase “green” products over the alternative. People are more conscientious about their carbon footprint today than they have ever been in the past.

With the rise of the technological age, many companies believe that the only responsible action is to move everything to a digital format. They think it is best to move away from commercial printing and to produce all their print digitally for web-based distribution.

However, giving up printed materials can be detrimental to a company’s growth. People still want physical products, and any good commercial printing company can produce these products in a way that is still environmentally friendly.

Just like their consumer base, professional printing companies are more environmentally conscious than ever. With so many sustainable resources available, it is possible to have the best of both worlds: Professionally printed products that are not impactful to the environment.

Commercial printers are actually driving the need for sustainable materials, and are some of the most responsible businesses in today’s market. They are a sound example of how businesses can be environmentally responsible and remain competitive and profitable

There are a few common myths about modern printing that are still part of the public opinion. We’ll take a look at these misconceptions and how commercial printers are using green products and practices to shatter these myths.

Misconception 1: Commercial Printing is not Environmentally Friendly

Most people don’t realize that paper is actually one of the most sustainable products available when compared to other resources. Today’s responsible printers are producing high quality materials on paper and board stock that is 100% recyclable. They are also sourcing their materials from environmentally conscious companies that adhere to the strictest sustainability practices for paper products as well as inks and specialty finishes. The latest technology in printing processes and machinery have also enabled responsible printers to attain drastic reductions in water usage, energy, and waste materials.

Misconception 2: Printing is Harmful to Forests

It is a misconception that printing is harmful to our forests. In fact, the U.S. Forest Service reports that there are 4 million trees planted daily in the U.S. and the timber industry is responsible for planting 1.7 million of these trees.

Responsible printing companies use products from companies that understand the need for timber not only today but years into the future. The basic rule of thumb is for every tree harvested, three or four more are planted in its place. These young trees help to absorb greenhouse gases which are known to be detrimental to the environment.

 If you look at this logically, the use of paper products is actually beneficial to the growth of the forests because of the overall number of trees planted.

In fact, there are actually 20% more trees in North America today than there were during the 1970’s when the first Earth Day celebration occurred.

Paper manufacturers and printing companies help to keep the forests thriving through their business practices. Instead of a landowner selling their property to developers, they are able to keep the forests alive and still be profitable. They do all this through supporting sustainable timber harvesting companies and practices.

Misconception 3: Manufacturing Depletes Crucial Fossil Fuels and Energy

In the past, there were many industries that consumed fossil fuels without regard. However, this isn’t true today. Commercial printing is a manufacturing process and much effort has been put into modernizing facilities and practices, resulting in major advancements in energy efficiency. Many printing companies are abandoning fossil fuels to utilize more eco-friendly renewable energy sources. These responsible business practices help to reduce greenhouse emissions and conserve the natural resources that are so vital to the planet. Responsible practices include: switching to LED lighting and motion detection to minimize electrical consumption; replacing vehicles with internal combustion engines with electric vehicles, scheduling more efficiently for  deliveries of raw materials and finished goods to reduce travel and shipping; and  optimization of machine usage to reduce, energy consumption, paper and chemical waste and the emission of VOC’s(Volatile Organic Compounds).

How to tell if a Printing Company is Environmentally Responsible?

There are ways to determine if a printing company is dedicated to their own sustainability in their commercial printing practices. Over the years, many organizations have created certification standards for the paper industry to ensure that they are using sustainable practices. Any quality printing company should have these certifications as well, available on their website and promotional materials.

Forest Stewardship Council Certification

One of the main certifications that a customer should look for is from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This is considered the industry standard for printing companies that want to showcase their sustainable practices.

The FSC has rigorous standards that companies need to comply with to earn the certification. With over 380 million acres of FSC certified forests around the world, it is no wonder why this certification is so important to businesses that want to be seen as environmentally friendly.

The FSC certification is supported by some of the biggest conservation organizations around the world. Groups like the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and the World Wildlife Federation all support the standards established by the FSC.

Printing companies who earn this certification have to go through a rigorous process. They have to prove that the paper products they utilize are harvested and produced by FSC certified companies.

This is called a Chan-of-Custody system, which tracks the products from the forest where the timber is harvested all the way to the final product. Everyone involved from harvesters, paper processors, product manufacturers, and the printing companies must have this certification to be recognized by the FSC.

FSC Chain-of-Custody Process

Before a company can be certified by the FSC, they need to undergo an audit from an independent third party. These auditors will look at all aspects of the company, from where the timber the paper manufacturer uses is sourced to the manufacturing and printing process.

All printing materials must be tracked through the FSC to ensure there is compliance from beginning to end. The beauty of this is that customers, who want to utilize a sustainable company, are ensured that the printing company they utilize is up to the sustainability standards they require.

Rondo-Pak/Contemporary Graphic Solutions Sustainability Practices

Rondo-Pak LLC and its Contemporary Graphic Solutions Division is a FSC certified company and also certified through the Rainforest Alliance. We use plant-based inks and reusable ink containers, all of which aids in our commitment to minimizing our carbon footprint through our recycling programs and our efforts to reduce our energy consumption and waste.

Our state-of-the-art printing presses have enabled us to cut 5,000,000 lbs. of paper waste each year.  In addition, we offer a wide variety of recycled materials in our paper stock that gives customers eco-friendly printing options.

In our manufacturing building, we have added LED lighting, an environmental air quality system, sun screen devices to reduce energy output, and exhaust fans which help remove heat generating elements from our building.

In late 2019 we received accommodation from the State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection “for our voluntary and proactive measures taken to go beyond compliance in an effort to improve the environment and ensure a sustainable future.”

 In 2020 we also attained certification through Ecovadis that we rank in the top fifteen percent of over 65,000 companies worldwide in our Environmental and Sustainable Procurement Practices.

We continue to deliver professional products to our customers while being a leader among printing companies in sustainability and energy efficiency.