Reducing your carbon footprint has several benefits to a business. First, it can reduce your overall operational costs. Second, it will improve your reputation with eco-conscious customers. Third, it’ll mean you’re doing what you can as an individual, and as a business owner, to help the environment. But when you’re buying lots of business cards, flyers, or correx signs, it can feel wasteful.
You may think that print marketing has a huge impact on the environment and you’re right – it can. That is, of course, if you don’t look into your suppliers in enough detail. If you know what to look for, you can find online printers who are as eco-friendly as you – so we’ve come up with a checklist to help you reduce your marketing carbon footprint…
1. Are They FSC Registered?
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies products that have been resourced sustainably. Any FSC-certified product can be traced right back to the very forest from which its materials began, and every step of the journey is recorded. No matter where it’s from in the world, if the source is an FSC sustainable forest, you can be sure to be able to trace the origin.
This transparency allows any business to be confident that they are buying products which are created from sustainably-sourced wood. You can tell your customers that you use only responsibly resourced products, which will help to build a positive relationship as you demonstrate your commitment to the environment.
2. What Are Their Environmental And Quality Standards?
A good print manufacturer will look beyond just environmental standards and ensure they improve their overall production processes, in order to be more efficient, create less wastage, and guarantee a consistent high standard.
There are two certification types here that you need to look for: ISO 14001 and ISO 9001.
ISO 14001 is an internationally recognised standard of practice for minimising environmental impact. This is particularly important for any print manufacturer, as the materials they use can be highly damaging to the environment and significantly increase the carbon footprint of their customers in turn.
A printing company with the ISO 14001 accreditation is one which has achieved a high level of environmental awareness, and has built eco-friendly methods into their processes. For example, at instantprint, we collate customer print jobs when using lithographic plates wherever possible. This means several jobs can be run at the same time, which reduces ink and paper wastage, as well as the time it takes for a press to complete the job. The electricity required to run a commercial printing press is significant – so it’s important to save every minute per job possible in order to minimise the impact to the environment.
The second accreditation is ISO 9001: this is, again, an international standard but this time it relates to quality management.
ISO 9001 is important for anyone looking for an eco-friendly print manufacturer because it means the company has implemented processes to prevent wastage and ensure a high standard of production and quality at all times. For example, having several checkpoints throughout the printing process ensures that errors are caught as early as possible – so a run can be stopped if there is a problem, without a full re-print required to correct it.
3. Is There Transparency About Waste?
Another way to tell if your print supplier has great environmental credentials is to look into their policy on waste. If you can’t find anything – move on.
A good print seller will provide you with a clear policy that states what is recycled, how much is non-recyclable, and what happens to waste during production. For example, at instantprint we recycle all of our paper trimmings and reduce our carbon footprint in doing so by compacting the trimmings before sending it for recycling. This is a long way off the big wheelie bins we used when we were starting out! As the company grew, the need for a sustainable recycling process was needed, and that’s why we introduced the compacter: it reduces the physical footprint of the waste paper, which in turn means fewer vehicles and petrol is used when it’s taken away for recycling.
It’s not just paper that can be recycled, either: the aluminium plates used for lithographic printing can all be recycled – which is great news, as each plate can only be used once. Designs are etched onto the plates in tiny dots which cannot be erased, so recycling helps to minimise the environmental impact of these single-use plates.
4. Can You Recycle Your Printed Products?
It’s important to look to the future, too. Once you’ve completed your print marketing campaign, or your employee leaves his job and a stack of old business cards on his desk, it’s important to know how to deal with your unused print media.
Not all materials are recyclable – so if you want to minimise your carbon footprint, it’s important to look into how you can treat products after they’ve been purchased. For example, correx signs may not seem recyclable – but in fact every single scrap of it is! Other products in a similar range, however, may not be recyclable – so it’s always worth checking.
How To Choose Your Print Supplier
There you have it: even if you’re a solopreneur and all you’re printing are business cards, if you want to ensure your paper is ethically-sourced and your materials are environmentally-friendly, make sure to ask these four questions when buying your print.