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Where the Grass and the Profits are Greener

(March 2008) posted on Thu Mar 06, 2008

Cutting through eco-jargon to nail down green practices and products.

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By Peggy Middendorf

The trick is to be sensitive to the price issue and to be prepared with green product benefits-as well as non-green alternatives. You’re likely to find many doubting Thomases who don’t believe that going green is possible without busting the budget. "We hear corporations talk about being ‘green,’ but cost and current relationships are still top priority for print buyers in these corporations," say Lisa Mordente, president of Parkway Imaging ( of Romeoville, Illinois. "Our customers are not willing to pay more for ‘green’ graphics-I still have to compete on price." But, she adds, "I believe that, in time, the green initiative in corporate America will be pushed from the top all the way down to the print buyers."

"Our green solutions come at a wide range of price points. Some materials don’t come at any premium over non-green solutions, while others are dramatically higher than traditional products," says Don Graham, president of BGM Imaging ( in Toronto and Calgary, Canada. "While the market has been generally reluctant to pay a premium for green-that’s now changing."

But even when products are deemed green, "There are limits to their use, and costs are usually higher," says Mark Taylor, vice president of imaging for GFX International ( in Grayslake, Illinois. No one, neither shops nor customers, wants to sacrifice quality or cost in order to be green, he says.

That’s true even for a company as committed to the environment as Ben & Jerry’s. In Burlington, Vermont, Light-Works’ Marty Feldman has found that even eco-friendly customer Ben & Jerry’s isn’t necessarily willing pay more-nor compromise on the quality. Only when Light-Works ( has been able to establish parity in quality and price, Feldman reports, has Ben & Jerry’s been willing to go green for a project.

Practices make perfect

There are two basic avenues for print providers to go green, and you can use some combination of these two ways to add shades of green to your shop’s environmental palette:

* Institute company-wide green practices that help push your business into a greener space-these can include a range of actions, including the reduction and recycling of waste media, energy conservation, the use of alternative energy sources, and more.
* Utilize greener tools and technologies-printing technologies, inks, and media-to produce green graphics.