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Sustainability: The Ultimate ROI?

(September 2017) posted on Wed Aug 30, 2017

How renewable business practices can make your shop more profitable.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Joe Holt

If you’re unfamiliar, the SGP is an independent nonprofit providing a certification label for sustainability in the printing industry, according to their website. The organization is viewed as the industry standard for the certification and continuous improvement of sustainability and best practices within print manufacturing operations. Before its creation, there were no boundaries or parameters set as to what defined a sustainable printing operation. Now, SGP provides a benchmark for print facilities’ sustainability endeavors.

An Image Options team member cuts UV-imaged, eco-friendly, white Falconboard event graphics. Designs are expertly oriented to maximize space on a single sheet and reduce waste.

As one of the first shops in the industry to recognize the advantages of and begin using bio-solvents, a corn-based ink lacking harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Image Options has always been at the forefront of green technology, according to company president Brian Hite. “We’ve always believed in being good corporate citizens,” he says. “But there’s no magic ‘green’ bullet to profit.” Social responsibility, he notes, takes dedication and determination. “It’s in everyday decisions that are environmentally conscious.”

That’s why Hite and his shop work to utilize every square inch of material when printing, expertly orienting artwork to maximize space on a single sheet to reduce waste that goes to the recycling bin or landfill. This means fewer trash and recycling pickups, which equals less money leaving the building. “Any shop can choose to do this,” says Hite. “And you don’t have to worry about employees getting on board. It’s good for the environment, it’s good for the company, and it’s good for paychecks.”

Tracking, metrics, and documentation are also vital to profits, adds Hite. For example, from 2011 to 2014, the company was able to increase the amount of materials they recycled from 17,660 pounds to nearly 26,000 pounds. They were also able to reduce VOCs from 1350 pounds down to just 162 pounds – an 88 percent improvement, which has the added benefit of being great for the health of their employees and the safety of their building.

Additional savings arose as Image Options updated their facility, installing motion-sensing LED fixtures throughout and swapping out their compressed air system and AC units. The 103,000-square-foot facility now uses 30 percent less electricity per month than their previous 70,000-square-foot building.