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Green Printing

“Going Green” is one of the most popular buzzwords we hear on TV, in newspapers and on the internet today. However, it is more than just a buzzword as there are real concerns about our environment and being eco-friendly is every person’s responsibility; including printers. Did you know that digital printing is inherently “green”?

Being “Green” for a printer involves several choices in the materials we use and the processes employed.

  • The source of the paper stocks used
  • The inks used in the printing process
  • The mechanics of the printing press used
  • The Short Run versus the Long Run
  • The recycling procedures put in place


Source of Paper Stocks

Did you know that half of the trees that are cut in North America go to making paper? Cutting so much timber has a significant impact on our environment. Even though harvesting timber can be considered a “renewable resource” since the trees can be replanted, the process of extracting the trees from the forest, transporting them to the paper mills and the chemical and mechanical processes required to transform wood into paper all take a significant toll on the environment. The U.S. consumes 100 million tons of paper annually. Couple that with the fact that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly 40% (81.3 million tons) of municipal solid waste comes from paper and paperboard and you can begin to understand the magnitude of the issue. The choices we make when selecting the paper stock we use in the printing process can have a great impact on the world around us. There are various types of paper stocks that can be considered “green”. Below are just a few of the better known classifications used in defining “green” paper stocks. All of the papers used by Influence Graphics are FSC certified. Ask your Customer Service Representative about our selection of recycled papers.


FSC certified papers

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international, not-for-profit, organization that brings people together to find solutions which promote stewardship of the world’s forests. Responsible forest management means forests are managed in a way that protects the water, soil and wildlife. It means communities, indigenous peoples, forest workers, industry players, forest owners – anyone who is affected by what happens to forests – agree on how the forest will be managed. While recycled fiber is a key element of the traditional model for responsible consumption, it is becoming increasingly clear that forest management in the production of the wood used in paper manufacturing, has more fundamental importance than even recycled fiber. The use of alternative fibers, chemical treatment and resulting effluence are other factors important to the responsible purchasing of paper and board.

Influence Graphics is FSC certified and able to provide you with a wide variety of FSC certified papers to print on.

For more information visit http://www.fscus.org/


Postconsumer waste (Recycled papers)

Post consumer waste (PCW) is material that is recovered after being used by the consumer. Think of it as paper that has served it’s purpose, has been discarded and then separated from solid waste to be recycled into new paper. Producing recycled paper causes 74% less air pollution, 35% less water pollution, and creates 5 times the number of jobs than producing virgin paper from trees. It saves old-growth trees, forest eco-systems, native habitat and biodiversity.

In order to be classified as recycled, the EPA guidelines require a minimum of 30% post-consumer content for uncoated printing and writing paper, and a minimum of 10% post-consumer content for coated papers.


Process Chlorine Free

Processed chlorine free refers to recycled paper in which the recycled content is unbleached or bleached without chlorine or chlorine derivatives. Dioxins and other toxins and pollutants created by chlorine and its derivatives are often referred to as chlorinated organic compounds. If these papers also contain a percentage of virgin fiber, the virgin fiber must have been processed without the use of any chlorine or chlorine compounds.


Green-E Certified papers

Green-e is the nation’s leading independent certification and verification program for renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reductions in the retail market. Green-e certifies that the electricity used in the manufacture of a paper comes from a renewable resource like wind, solar, geothermal or small hydro-electrical dams. More than 80% of man-made U.S. greenhouse gas emissions arise from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Businesses account for 50% of U.S. energy consumption. Switching to renewable energy significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and is an effective strategy for combating climate change.


Inks Used in the Printing Process

Offset printing inks may contain material that makes them hazardous, such as metals used for coloring and solvents used to accelerate drying. In addition, because most printing inks are petroleum-based, they may have significant volatile organic compound (VOC) content. The Clean Air Act Amendments regulate overall VOC emissions from printers.

Digital printing presses use far fewer solvents than most offset presses. In fact, none of HP Indigo’s process ink colors contain substances listed on the federal list of hazardous air pollutants established under Section 112 of the Federal Clean Air Act. The Indigo printing process emits virtually no volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere as the ink drying process is done “mechanically” as the imaging oil, which is the wet part of the ink, is physically removed, rather than relying on evaporation. Evaporative drying, which is what happens with most ink-drying processes puts the organic compounds into the atmosphere where they do the most damage. By capturing the contaminants and recycling the imaging oil the Indigo printing press contributes much less to atmospheric contamination.


The Mechanics of the Printing Press

Typical offset printing requires many more components that are necessary for the printing process than digital printing requires. There are plates (usually made of aluminum) and “make ready” or the steps required to prepare the press including inking the press, adjusting the plates in order to get tight registration, etc.. Offset printers waste a lot of paper just to get the press ready to print a job.  Typically they run a couple of hundred sheets through the press for make ready and to get the press registered.  By the time they’ve gotten the colors adjusted properly they’ve probably thrown away at least 500 sheets of paper and they haven’t even starting running the job yet.  Because there are no plates required and no “make ready” there is much less waste in digital printing.

Digital printing by contrast does not require the use of plates. An electronic file is sent directly from a computer to a raster image processor (RIP) computer that translates the text and images in the document into dots representing colors. A laser “paints” the images onto a photo sensitive drum. In the case of the HP Indigo, the technology used is based around their ElectroInk technology, which uses small color particles suspended in Imaging Oil that can be attracted or repelled by means of a voltage differential. The ink forms a very thin and smooth plastic layer on the paper surface. Because there are no plates required and no “make ready” there is much less waste in digital printing. Operators will typically print a proof and if the client approves it the job is run without any additional setup required.


The Short Run versus the Long Run

Because a significant amount of the cost of offset printing is associated with the setup process, once the press is ready to print, the cost difference between printing 1,000 and 10,000 copies of, say, a brochure is very small (only the incremental paper and ink costs). Consequently, the traditional thinking was that it made sense to print large quantities of a document and warehouse the material till you needed it. Unfortunately researchers estimate that 37% of all printed material becomes outdated and ends up in a landfill. By printing smaller quantities more often your printed material is less likely to become obsolete. With digital printing’s “Print on Demand” capability, print buyers can order their printed materials in small quantities sufficient for their immediate needs. This eliminates costly warehousing and reduces landfill waste. The added benefit to digital printing is that the lead time required to print documents is much shorter than traditional offset printing method.


The Recycling Procedures put in Place

At Influence Graphics we make every attempt to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle where ever possible.

Green Printing from Influence Graphics

Give us a call at 212-354-6123 and see how we can positively “Influence” your next project.