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Turning CMYK into Green

Touting your shop's shrinking environmental footprint makes good business sense.

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By Peggy Middendorf

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, The BIG Print’s "BioGraphix" designation first began after the Seattle, WA-based company printed a half-million-sq-ft job for a nationwide retailer. Because the graphics were destined to be hung for a single weekend sale, company president Jon Zinsmeyer realized that 500,000 sq ft of graphics would be headed for landfills around the country. Instead, he asked the retailer to ship all the banners back to his shop. While printed vinyl cannot be re-printed, he was able to use the vinyl to make bags to ship billboards in, and generally was able to find uses for it in-house, reducing the need for other materials.

This experience led him on a mission to make his company more Earth-friendly. He worked with vendors to seek out the most environmentally friendly media and cleaning products-not just products that could be re-used or recycled, but products that were produced in a VOC-free manufacturing process. In addition, if a media claimed to be biodegradable, to reach BioGraphix standards it had to degrade at least 90% in 5 years.

Soon after Zinsmeyer found Earth-friendly substrates, BioVu inks, from EFI Inkware, were announced. Zinsmeyer’s shop became a beta tester for the BioVu inks and is now running the corn-based bioink on one EFI Vutek printer. The Big Print also has a UV-cure EFI Vutek PressVu 200. Besides its super-low VOCs, Zinsmeyer likes flatbeds because you only print what you need-there is no waste. In addition, he has a customer that brings in his rigid signage every week and the company is able to re-print on these boards.

This marriage of green materials and inks has become the standard The Big Print calls "BioGraphix." The company continues to seek out media (including materials that have not traditionally been used by digital printers) and test prints the substrate on its machines to make sure the media hits their quality standard. The Big Print ( also produces VDP mailing pieces on its Xerox DocuColor 5000, using 100% post-consumer paper-the pieces are recyclable and have been printed on "Xerox’s most environmentally friendly printer."