Recycled paper

How to Achieve Sustainability in Print for Your Company

Sustainability in Print – Polish Your Green Credentials

Consider stock, materials, processes and a circular economy

Mother Nature’s resources are depleting. With global populations expanding, individuals, companies, and brands are under pressure to do their bit by championing environmental campaigns and tackling climate change.


What is sustainability?

From a business perspective, sustainability is any practice of averting the depletion of natural or physical resources to support or maintain a long-term process.


What is sustainability in print?

Sustainability in print concerns the entire printing process, from raw materials to fulfilment. The print industry is a leader in ‘green’ innovation, with giant leaps achieved in sourcing eco-friendly materials, overhauling production processes, and managing waste. Investing in environmentally friendly print is a must for brands and organisations wanting to reduce their carbon footprint and streamline business processes. It also ticks the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) box and builds brand loyalty.

Although printed materials use a key ingredient from the natural world, sustainable printing practices are not limited to recycled paper. Many sustainable materials and processes do exist. Solutions include adopting recycled materials and using environmentally friendly inks and paper coatings. Soy, vegetable or algae-based eco-solvent and waterless-based inks are petroleum-free and accessible.

Many ethical printers buy from sustainable sources and use carbon balanced papers. This guarantees that forests and woodlands are replenished after tree harvesting. As a paper consumer, you can also consciously use ‘virgin’ paper, as it is still a sustainable material. Look out for affiliation with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Paper can also become carbon-balanced when production emissions and processes are offset. Look out for association with the Wood Land Trust.

Recycled paper
Printed marketing materials on Recycled paper

What sustainable printing options are available?

Digital printing is a cost-effective method for short-run print requirements. Artwork and document files are printed from electronic files removing the need for printing plates. This significantly reduces timeframes and staffing. Digital printers use toner colour and emit less CO2 than litho or web printing presses. Many modern machines are carbon neutral and produce minimal waste, giving the thumbs up for sustainability.

LED ultraviolet printing produces sharp, vivid imagery. It’s perfect for visual materials, and the instant drying process uses less CO2 emissions and power. This eliminates the need for sealing coats and powder sprays, making turnaround quicker.

Paper and cards can be partially or fully recycled, and many materials are ‘recyclable’ up to seven times. This aids the circular economy to a point. But as paper fibres become shorter over time, the quality will diminish. Even at this point, it’s not the end, with the remaining paper paste used to create egg boxes and newspapers.

Uncoated papers are an ethical choice. Stock is easy to recycle and feels more natural. Some innovative raw material alternatives to wood are worth considering. These include hemp, bamboo, grass, and cocoa seeds. Likewise, alternative polyester and polyethylene-based PVC-free materials reduce plastic in large-format printing. Investing in ethical materials creates positive PR when sharing print jobs with customers.


Reducing waste in print

While electronic documents and paperless processes help reduce waste, some organisations still need print. And it’s a myth that emails and electronic documents have zero carbon footprints.

Many sustainable elements go unnoticed behind the scenes but are still worth considering.

Improving sustainability and reducing waste translates to promoting good working practices in other business areas. Look out for printers adopting green processes. A ‘smart print factory’ with digitised communication and internal processes is energy efficient. External processes, such as electric or hybrid transport or green couriers, can help reduce carbon emissions. Reducing administration paper in print workshops and offices will also help. Other examples include recycling aluminium printing plates and stock samples and ensuring the ethical disposal of printers, toners, and ink cartridges.


Panda Press’s sustainability commitments

Panda Press supports the Woodland Trust and the Woodland Carbon Scheme. When partnering with us, you can choose to capture the CO2 emissions from your paper. Costs are offset by planting native woodland in the UK.

  • Capture the carbon from paper manufacture and distribution when placing a print order.
  • For each job, we calculate the amount of CO2 generated in the production and delivery of your paper.
  • Use the Woodland Carbon logo with the print job, demonstrating your commitment.
  • The Woodland Trust receives all Carbon Capture charges. The fees are then invested in planting at accredited woodland creation sites in the UK.

Achieving sustainability in print can be confusing, especially with so many options available. The first step is to carry out your research. Speak to a reputable printer who is already embracing environmentally friendly practices. Partnering with a suitable company will allow you to harness the best ecological choices and stand proud of having a positive impact on the natural world.


Why choose sustainable print solutions?

Incorporating CSR practices into your business strategy gains buy-in, especially from your customers. It’s a positive boost in brand reputation. Sharing your sustainability in print methods will also impact customer decision-making. Make it a brand management non-negotiable when producing marketing and communication materials.


Did you know… 

66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands.
Data source: NielsenIQ

Want to find out more?

Contact the Panda team today to learn more about sustainability in print and ways to implement sustainable practices.