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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

Let’s first take a look at the practices side of things. Gabriel likens adopting a green policy to the commitment to lose weight: "It’s a gradual progression, and you have to start with a plan and then execute. Start small, but think big!" LAgraphico, he says, has identified several key practices that play a role in promoting its own in-house green efforts: education, awareness, and top-down commitment.

GFX International also has developed a step-by-step process: "The first step we take in implementing green practices is to evaluate current consumption and/or waste," says Taylor. "We then benchmark our usage and determine whether a specific practice can be either eliminated entirely or modified to be green."

Two areas that can dramatically impact your company’s footprint on the practices side of the equation are waste and energy.

Managing waste: You can reduce waste and implement in-house recycling of waste graphics and scraps; paper and PVC are the most recycled media. As part of GFX’s Green Policy, for instance, in 2006 the company recycled nearly 400,000 pounds of styrene.

"We’ve partnered with a recycling company that provides us with large bins for the paper and PVC waste that we produce during the printing and trimming process," says Parkway Imaging’s Mordente. While digitally trimming its prints to reduce waste from trimming errors, the company also has a policy of printing the exact number ordered to hold waste to a bare minimum.

Beyond recycling print media, print shops can recycle more common office items such as basic office paper, aluminum cans, bottles, and batteries.

Reducing energy consumption: Shops can turn to alternative energy sources, use energy-efficient light bulbs, and cut power to unused areas of the facility. In the Toronto area, for instance, companies pay less for hydroelectric power used during non-peak hours, so IconPrint has moved a lot of its production to the night shift to save on energy costs. The company is also trying to source more local products, recognizing the reduction in energy expended for transportation.