In today’s world of digital information, print still holds its crucial place. But new environmental considerations are important when looking at the design of publications such as reports, prospectuses, brochures and so on.
As part of Piquant’s sustainable policy, we are looking at many areas of production where we could reduce our impact on the environment. One aspect of our creative output is print, and in this blog, we cover some insights yielded by our research into more sustainable ways to deliver this media.
The key considerations to examine are
- Print vs Digital
- Inks and other materials
Print vs Digital
In general, digital assets are perceived as more environmentally friendly then print, on a simple principle of the absence of a physical object. However, it is now well known that data storage requires huge amounts of energy and that digital waste is becoming an increasing global concern.
Another factor to consider is that not everyone prefers digital information – especially the vulnerable and elderly find printed materials easier to access. So depending on your project’s objectives and target audience, print could be the most suitable solution to deliver your message. And if you choose your print service provider right, the environmental impact does not need to be that negative. So don’t ditch that brochure idea quite yet and read on!
The main considerations for paper or card are where the stock sourced from, and what are the composition/materials used in the making of the paper.
Paper using fibre from certified sources and well managed forests ensure the impact on the environment is minimal. There are several initiatives available, the two most recognised being the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™ (PEFC™). These ensure that forest growth areas aren’t shrinking, in fact in European managed forests the areas have been expanding by a small percentage annually.
Considering the use of recycled paper stock is another way to lower the impact on the environment and to support the circular life of a product. The recycled paper options available are of ever increasing standard, and depending on the finished product, come in many professional looking finishes. Packaging especially lends itself to 100% recycled fibre options, as does newsprint and some card. This ratio becomes lower in higher-grade graphic papers and speciality stock.
Paper that is not further treated by other processes such as laminating, UV spot varnish, gold foil etc can additionally be easily recycled after use and enter the circular economy stream yet again.
Disposing of print waste responsibly, by recycling or by minimising waste altogether, is something many printers also consider, and should be one of the factors when deciding on where to send your designs for printing .
Looking at ink’s composition and how it’s stored determines its environmental impact. Organic based inks, such as mineral, vegetable or soy inks, have less impact than oil or chemical based ones which contain harmful compounds and chemicals.
When it comes to the containers that inks are stored in, large drums/containers that are refillable are the preferred option. Further steps that can be considered when looking into greener printing options are chemical free plates and processes.
Choosing print processes that can implement these green swaps should be considered where possible, such as offset and riso methods, and for smaller print runs, digital printers.
All of the above factors should be considered when choosing a printer for your next print job, alongside the geographical location of your printer, in order to reduce the carbon footprint caused by transport, and to support local businesses and economy.
More and more businesses are getting on board with more considerate ways of production that keep the environment in mind, and offering greener alternatives when it comes to print.
Here in Piquant, we’ve reached out to printers we work with on regular bases, and also expanded our research to include some new options of businesses that have sustainability at their core. And we have started conversations and explorations on ways we can implement greener principles in the publications we design. If you would like to chat to us about this, please contact us