Everything, Including the Forks

Bolger Vision's advice for going green? Recycle everything.

Bolger Vision Beyond Print’s founder, Dik Bolger, has always been an environmentalist at heart. That’s where the print provider’s pursuit of sustainable practices originates.

“When I joined the printing company, one of my jobs was to empty the trash, so I became good friends with the garbage man,” Bolger says. 

He told me one day that ink dripped out the back of his truck when he drove away. Perfectly legal, not a problem, but it triggered a light in my head. I began the study of how our company and its supplies impacted the earth. Ink was the first change and recycling our waste paper was the next. This was the mid ’70s so the recycling industry was in its infant stage.

In more recent years, Bolger Vision expanded on their existing sustainable practices and worked toward certifications. After getting involved with a regional green printing initiative and obtaining other certifications including FSC, SGP was a complement to their existing sustainability efforts, says Rick Kline, Bolger Vision’s director of compliance.

Under the SGP certification, Bolger Vision now measures its air emissions and tracks the company’s carbon footprint, allowing them to see the reductions they have made in their environmental impact. Inks and ink containers are recycled whenever possible – or returned to the manufacturer for recycling. And school classes and groups visit the facility to learn about recycling and sustainability efforts. 

Little things add up to make an impact, Kline says. Much of the Minneapolis-based facility has made the switch to LED lighting, which will result in $15,000 in energy savings over 10 years, according to Kline’s calculations. 

They even found corn-based – instead of plastic – disposable flatware for the break room, which can be recycled, Kline says. Organic waste is sorted from other waste and the office paperwork filing system has been adjusted to reduce the amount of paper used, which has the added benefit of saving space. Keeping the focus on sustainability in all aspects of the workplace requires educating employees to get them on board.

It’s a cultural change, but people responded to it in a positive way – they get it,

Kline adds. Partnering with local waste and recycling organizations was one of the first steps Bolger Vision took toward reducing the company’s footprint – and something he suggests other PSPs should explore as a first step toward going green. A grant through the local chamber of commerce and Minnesota Waste Wise helped the company pay for their recycling bins. With increased recycling, there is less garbage to haul away. By adding dumpsters for organic materials, the company reduced its solid waste by four yards per pickup in 2017. 

Bolger Vision also switched to UV printers for wide-format printing and shifted to more energy-efficient and organic inks for the other segments of their printing business. The company was able to obtain a rebate for buying more efficient equipment. Kline suggests PSPs research the opportunities in federal or local grants and rebate programs geared toward sustainability – it might make upgrading to new equipment more affordable.

“We’ve gained customers because we are finding that more and more are environmentally savvy as well,” Kline says.

Read more from Big Picture's April 2018 "A Smaller Footprint" sustainability feature.

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