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Doing the Right Thing

(April 2014) posted on Mon Apr 21, 2014

How to balance your company’s needs with government regulations and customer demand for products that are environmentally friendly and cost effective.


By Rick Mandel

At my company, our team continually struggles to find the best mix of materials and methods to complete each job in a responsible manner while remaining competitive in the marketplace. It isn’t always easy. If we’re honest with ourselves, large-format digital printing has a substantial impact on the environment. The raw materials we use (plastics, metals, inks, laminates, etc.) don’t always do well in landfills. These components are a huge part of our manufacturing process, and because we work in large formats, we produce a lot of them.

As printers, we tend to focus on substrates when we consider sustainability, although altering our work environment and encouraging our vendors and clients to practice sustainable business practices are other things we can do to make our little corner of the world a bit cleaner. Substrates would certainly seem to be low-hanging fruit for anyone in our industry, yet a recent ISA/InfoTrends study showed that printers and their clients aren’t enamored with eco-friendly media. Of 11 considerations that factor into the choice of media for a job, environmental impact ranked dead last in the study. Durability, quality, and price led the pack. That’s not too surprising, since providing a quality product at a competitive price would seem to be the primary objective for most manufacturers, and digital printing companies are no different.

The hurdles to making meaningful advancements in sustainability remain high. Our clients, mostly brand marketers and the agencies that work with them, often say they want environmentally friendly solutions. But few are willing to be eco-friendly if it means a higher cost, and by and large, digital printers view “green” substrates as being low performers. So how do you balance your company’s needs with government regulations and customer demand for products that are both environmentally friendly and cost effective?


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