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Printing and the Environment

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Everything we do has an impact on the environment; however we are more conscious than ever of the negative impact what we do has on the world around us. Printing is historically, a highly toxic and polluting activity, but major advances in technology and legislation to protect the world around us has resulted in cleaner printing, using sustainable resources and minimal adverse effect on our environment… providing you order from the right print Melbourne.

Many printing companies that are found offering an online service are not actually doing the printing themselves. They are acting as order takers for print shops in the Far East, where there are extremely cheap labor and material costs to be found but without the state of the art technology or the environmental protection laws. Quality is traded in for low cost, and the impact upon the environment is out of all proportion to the benefit to be gained from ordering from overseas print shops.

Far East print shops utilize old technology, very typically operating older printing presses which have served a useful life in the US or Europe, and which have been refurbished and refitted in, say, China. The inks they use are highly toxic and they create a great deal of polluting byproducts, which are typically disposed of into rivers and wildlife habitats with no thought for the consequences. As they are using old technology, the print finish tends to be of substandard quality compared to a press in the US.

In the US, a printer will operate to extremely stringent environmental protection laws. In addition, many US-based printing operations acknowledge and understand that customers want their suppliers to be green, not just in terms of paying lip service to the concept, but to live and practice environmentally sound policies wherever possible.

Printing generates a great deal of waste paper, and a US print shop will typically operate a paper ‘catch system’. This automates the collection and handling of paper waste, which is compacted and ‘baled’ for easy transport to a recycling facility where it can be re-used to make other paper products. For every bale which is returned to paper manufacturers, that is another load of paper which is kept out of the landfill!

Inks used in printing are the greatest source of pollution, both from waste product generated during the printing process and in the eventual disposal of the printed product when it has served its purpose. Modern inks have been developed to tackle the problem of this toxicity, with a range of inks which are based on soy or other ‘green’ products. Modern technology has also been lending a further hand with the development of ‘UV’ ink, which uses heat reactive paper to create imagery and text without the need for any toxic component at all.