Becoming an eco-friendly business brings with it plenty of benefits. Not only can it help you to reduce your impact on the environment, but it can also go towards keeping costs down and attracting new customers.
We’re well aware that printing doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to the environment – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done in an eco-friendly way. It takes a lot of work to make sure we’re doing everything we can to be as green as possible, which is why we thought we’d share some of the different practices we’ve got in place. Because if we can do it, anyone can!
If you’re ready to take the next step towards sustainability or looking for inspiration on how to be a little greener, here are 7 learnings from instantprint to make your business eco-friendlier.
1. Source Your Materials Sustainably
Whether you’re manufacturing products to sell to your customers or buying packaging and marketing materials, it’s important that you know how your materials are being sourced. Here at instantprint, all of our paper stocks are from FSC certified suppliers.
The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is an international organisation dedicated to improving responsible management of the world's forests. This covers much more than trees themselves. It ensures that nearby local communities are respected, the habitats of endangered plants and animal species are protected, and that all workers are properly paid.
Not only do we use paper from responsibly managed forests, but we use the greenest options available to us – FSC Mix and FSC Recycled.
2. Perform an Environmental Inspection
Even if you’ve already got a solid environmental strategy, there’s always room for improvement. You can either perform an audit yourself by questioning whether there’s more you could be doing to reduce your environmental impact or, like we do, get external auditors in for a fresh pair of eyes.
Once a year, we’re inspected by external auditors who measure our environmental impact and give us a plan on how to improve. All of this goes towards us being certified to a set of environmental management standards called ISO 14001:2015, that we’re constantly working towards. By renewing our plan every year after the audit, we’re always working towards reducing our impact on the environment, which is better for us, you, the planet - everyone, really!
3. Take Control of Your Waste
Waste is one of those areas that can be really easy to overlook. It’s just recycling, right? Well, that’s one part of it, but to really take control, you’ll need to take a more holistic approach to waste management. Sure, you can recycle packaging and excess marketing materials, but what about other waste?
We began our internal ‘War on Waste’ campaign in 2018 and it’s still going strong to this day. As part of this, we encourage everyone to commit to reducing waste output and set targets for each department to make sure we were hitting our goals.
As part of our initial campaign:
- We reduced the number of sheets wasted in our Lithographic stream by 52.77%, which includes paper, ink, power for the machines and chemical usage
- Our Inkjet stream changed their process and eliminated 100% of their excess waste (awesome job, guys!)
- We installed timers on our processes to automatically turn off, which reduced power usage on our UV drying process by one fifth!
- We reduced shrink wrapping on business cards by 67% - and made sure the plastic wrapping we do use is recyclable
- We introduced process-less plates on our Lithographic stream, seeing a 100% reduction in the consumption of harmful chemicals
In what ways can you better manage your waste?
4. Get the Whole Team on Board
Like with our 'War on Waste' campaign, if you’ve got a whole team working for you, use them too! Chances are, everyone will be able to improve their practices to help make your business eco-friendlier. This might be cracking open a window instead of turning on the air-con, doing a round of brews so the kettle only has to boil once, turning the lights off in meeting rooms when you leave them or even carpooling.
5. Use Packaging Responsibly
As part of our 'War on Waste' campaign, we manage to reduce the plastic shrink wrap on our business cards by 67%, but that’s not all. All of our packaging is easy for customers to recycle – yep, even the plastic!
Take a moment to think about your current packaging solution. Are you using plastic bags? Cardboard boxes? Envelopes? Packing peanuts? For one, think about whether these materials are sourced sustainably. If not, it might be time to change supplier. And two, how easy is it for your customers to recycle or reuse the packaging on their end?
6. Create Recycled Options for Customers
Not only are all of our print products recyclable, but we have an entire range made from 100% recycled materials. This consists of our most popular products – business cards, flyers, greeting cards and invitations.
This shows customers that we’re dedicated to meeting their sustainability needs and gives them options if they want to make greener choices with their print.
Do you have the opportunity to introduce a recycled range? Or make more products from pre-loved materials? This could be a great new avenue for finding customers.
7. Introduce Energy Saving Solutions
As well as all the changes we’ve made in our printing processes, we’ve taken other energy-saving steps across our offices and with our team too, such as:
- Our office air conditioning is set on a timer, meaning it's not on 24/7
- We have a PC power off policy - all office computers must be switched off at the end of the day
- We use low energy LED lightbulbs to light up our offices and communal areas
- We're a host for Rotherham Council's cycle club hub so employees can have their bicycles serviced at work
- We offer a bike loan service to encourage more employees to start cycling to work
And, excitingly, to help us reach our goal of becoming 40% self-sufficient when it comes to energy, we’re currently in the process of sourcing solar panels for our production facility!
We hope this article has given you plenty of inspiration for giving your business an eco-friendly boost! You can see all of our green initiatives, more information about how sustainable we are and our 'War on Waste' campaign here.