Green Printing: A Cost Effective Path to Environmental Friendliness

Green printing is a movement that has been gaining a steady momentum over the last few years. Today, however, green printing has captured the attention of large companies and some government agencies. Among those that have begun eco-friendly practices are Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Dell Computers, all known industry leaders in the field of technology.

For businessmen, green printing can be the cheaper alternative for businesses aiming to reduce operational costs and to make do with limited capital.

But what is green printing?

It is printing in a way which is environmentally friendly. This involves the use of more natural inks, recycled papers and energy conservation.

However, there are no set standards or guidelines to determine which printing company are green and which ones are not. Some companies market themselves as green printers but in actuality are not. In the same light, there are others that practice green printing but do not necessarily sell themselves as green printers, nor make it public knowledge that they are green.

Despite the lack of set standards, guidelines or definitions, there are a set of generally accepted characteristics and standards ascribed to green printers. Some of these are as follows, as listed by the Bay Area Green Business Program website (2004):
  1. Use of "treeless," recycled paper and energy-efficient computers and equipment;
  2. Digitized or computerized pre-press operations;
  3. Recycling of excess or waste materials, such as paper, inks and solvents;
  4. Utilization of ink that is free of alcohol, toxins and other volatile organic Compounds (VOCs);
  5. Use of paperless communications procedures; and
  6. Sincere and active attempts to educate clients on the merits of green printing.
The Printing Industry and its Impact on the Environment.

A PictureMany environmentalists and advocacy groups have decried the deteriorating condition of forestation throughout the world as a consequence of industrialization and the need for society to expand its habitats in order to accommodate the growing population.

Numerous toxic substances are typically associated with the traditional printing process. Cook has noted that the inks used by a large number of commercial printers are petroleum-based, which is a non-renewable fuel source. Furthermore, petroleum-based inks have high VOC contents that are leaked back into the air and the water supply. The presence of high VOC in water and air can lead to cancer as well as defects in newborn infants.

The fact is that according to estimates made by the advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund, a single ton of virgin paper makes use of three tons of wood as well as around 19,075 gallons of water (Cook, 2005). It also leads to the creation of over two thousand pounds of solid waste. These figures represent 90% of the printing and writing paper produced in the United States alone. It does not end there, however. The production of virgin, uncoated paper requires a bleaching and chlorination process to make the paper a brilliant white, as well as to make it stronger and more durable (Benson 2006). The process unfortunately releases toxic materials back into the water supply.

Cook also wrote that the solvents and chemicals used in printing presses are also toxic and hazardous, increasing the risk of people working in printing presses to chronic and deadly health problems including kidney and liver failure.

Clearly, the use of virgin paper and the process by which it is produced is dangerous to the environment. For this reason advocacy groups have been pushing for green printing and bringing it to the awareness of the general public.

Green printing: A Better Solution to be continued next posting...


Reese said...

Hi, there Lilian. This your blog too? I got something like this, Hope you can drop by too. Smile!

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