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Building a Green Campaign

(December 2010) posted on Tue Dec 07, 2010

Portland Color helps Bloomingdale's show off its sustainable side.


By Jake Widman

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Not long afterwards, the SGIA and other printing and graphic-arts professional groups formed the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) to create a central clearinghouse for information on green printing.

"The SGP program is built on a foundation of compliance," says Graham, whose shop is now SGP-certified. "We embrace the idea that sustainability starts with following all the rules and documenting our compliance. Our indoor air quality is excellent, primarily because we chose not to invest in solvent processes. Our primary process is UV cured, and our vinyl printing is done with [HP’s] latex ink. We collect and then dispose of all waste products appropriately – they get picked up by a licensed vendor and incinerated. We do vent some indoor air to the outdoors, but we run it through a charcoal filter system to reduce any VOCs. We invite inspections from the state and from our insurance company so that we can learn what we should be doing, rather than waiting for an official inspection."

Meanwhile down the coast in New York City, retail giant Bloomingdale’s had been pursuing its own sustainable efforts in recent years. In addition to taking actions such as reducing its carbon footprint through the addition of solar panels in its stores, the retailer had also begun supporting the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) since 2007 through funding, loyalty programs, and awareness-raising events in stores and on its website. As it made its preparations to celebrate Earth Month in April 2010, Bloomingdale’s was looking at some combination of these same in-store and online elements.

Proposing solutions
Being a green printer may be good for a company's image, but is it good for business? In the case of the recent collaboration between Portland Color and Bloomingdale's, the answer was certainly yes. As with so many jobs, this one began with introducing the client to a new idea.

"We first got into wide-format printing because we saw it as a possible area of expansion. Generally, clients don't know what they need, so it's our business to do the research and suggest solutions that would be appropriate," says Graham.


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