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Sustainable Printing: Beyond Certification

(October 2015) posted on Wed Dec 16, 2015

Education, creativity, and community play equally important roles.

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By Adrienne Palmer

This is part two of a two-part series on sustainable digital printing. To read part one, click here, or visit our digital edition to read the piece in its entirety.

So, you have a sustainable shop with green products and third-party verification, maybe even certification. But are your customers asking questions? Can you answer them?

“More and more people and consumers, as well as our ultimate buyers, are starting to ask key questions,” says the Sustainable Green Partnership's (SGP) Marci Kinter. “That’s really important. As printers become more familiar and more able to discuss sustainability and sustainable options in their company, they’re able to provide the ultimate purchaser with options.” This can mean swapping fabric for paperboard products, and showing the customer those cost savings in a holistic way.

Kinter says it’s all about making sure the customer base understands the attributes of any substrate that they wish to use, plus price points, and what kind of ink they are using, so they can offer the buyer options. “If the buyer comes in and says, ‘I just need to use a green substrate,’ then the printer can say ‘Sure, what is it that you want to do with this? Are you looking at an alternative end of life?’ and they can have those conversations. So, that it’s not just ‘Yes, use this,’ ‘It’s more expensive,’ ‘OK, then use this.’ They can have a much more intelligent conversation.” Kinter says print shops that are SGP certified are more likely and able to have dialogues, ask questions, and push back.

Sustainability is no longer a “fringe issue,” says Jeremy Petty of the SpeedPro Imaging of Fort Worth. “It has become a mainstream concern. Beyond schools, hospitals, LEED projects, etc.; we are seeing our traditional customers requesting PVC-free vinyl and fully recyclable rigid media.”

A large part of SpeedPro’s business process is consulting, so they use samples of traditional versus green substrates when discussing potential projects. Petty says that in many cases, customers aren’t familiar with alternatives, but seeing the products side by side lets them make an informed choice.