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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

Primary Color ( in Costa Mesa, California, meanwhile, began replacing its local delivery fleet with hybrid vehicles in 2005, a strategy that has produced dramatic cuts in gasoline and oil consumption, says John Shaffer, director of large format. Further, the company’s adoption of soft proofing has not only reduced the need to print proofs, but also eliminated dozens of daily messenger trips.

Here are just a few tips to tune-up your company’s green practices:

* Bring your employees into the decision-making process; ask them how your company can "green up."
* Get company-wide buy-in for all aspects of the greening of your shop: recycling, reduced energy consumption, etc.
* Seek out OEMs that practice green in the manufacturing of machines, media, and inks.
* Be aware of all federal, state, and local green standards that impact your shop.
* Educate your customers about your company’s green products and practices. Clarify why your products are eco-friendly.
* Suggest where and how your customer can implement green practices by recycling printed graphics.
* As industry standards and certifications are available, align your shop’s practices to achieve these standards.

Integrating hardware, inks, media

In utilizing hardware, inks, and media to produce and market green graphics, it’s important to keep in mind that you can only sell what your customers want to buy. For instance, Light-Works’ current business began two years ago when Vermont neighbor Ben & Jerry’s asked the company to research environmental large-format printing options and encouraged it to act on those findings. With the hardy support of other clients as well as employees eager for eco-printing options, last year the company invested in a Durst Rho 600 Pictor UV-curable printer, and the shop has never looked back.

A vast majority of shops implementing green policies are producing those graphics with UV-curable printers or machines using aqueous inksets to avoid the VOCs produced by solvent inks. Not only do the VOCs put workers’ health at risk and require proper venting and monitoring, but there are also strict rules surrounding the disposal of the solvent inks themselves. Likewise, some shops are marketing eco-, mild-, or light-solvents as "more green," but this becomes a trickier sales proposition since there are no industry standards for these inksets, and they are, for all intents and purposes, still solvents.