How to Spot an Eco-Friendly Printing Company (7 Key Traits)

By Coel Flett on July 7, 2021


Today’s businesses require an enormous amount of print material to help sustain their marketing efforts. Direct mail, flyers, signage, business cards… the list goes on. Due to the sheer volume of print material needed, it’s important to make sure the printing company you choose to do business with is environmentally conscious. But sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Many companies will claim to provide eco-friendly printing services on their website, while their processes show otherwise. So, exactly how can you sort the print companies that say they’re environmentally conscious from the ones that actually are? For more than 15 years, ION has provided customers with eco-friendly print solutions at our local Edmonton facility. During this time, we have noticed a few practices that are common among green printing companies. In this post, we’ll share 7 telltale signs of an eco-friendly print company so you can be sure you’re making the right choice! Why is Eco-Friendly Printing Important? The obvious reason is that eco-friendly print practices help protect the planet. According to the United Nations, the global population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion people by the year 2050. This explosion in the number of people sharing our planet means that businesses and consumers alike have the responsibility to make sure their choices protect the health of the environment. Today’s consumers are more selective than ever before with the companies they do business with. If they choose to buy from a particular company, they want to be assured that every aspect of their business promotes the well-being of the environment. With that said, let’s take a look at 7 key traits to look for in an environmentally friendly printing company!

7 Key Traits of An Eco-Friendly Printing Company

1. Chemistry-Free Printing Plates

Similar to traditional photography, traditional printing plates were historically developed using a series of harmful chemicals. These chemicals often get mixed with water and end up going down the drain, creating a major source of pollution.

However, with the emergence of chemistry-free (or processless) printing plates in the early 2000s, this has changed. Now plates can be produced without the use of harmful chemicals like benzene, and require no water at all.

At ION, we’re proud to say that our plant uses only chemistry-free plates and has been benzene-free for more than a decade!

Always make sure that the printing company you choose opts to use chemistry-free printing plates.

2. Vegetable-Based Inks

Gone are the days when the only option for print companies was to use toxic, chemical-filled inks. Now, vegetable-based inks exist that provide the same quality of print, with a fraction of the environmental impact.

These inks are made from vegetable oil (usually soy or corn oil) rather than petroleum, helping to significantly reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the air during the printing process.

Many large printers have caught on to this trend in the past decade.

In fact, according to one source, when the New York Times Switched to soy-based ink they were able to reduce their annual VOC emissions by 200 tonnes!

3. Eco-Friendly Printing Paper

Eco-friendly printing paper (or green printing paper) refers to any type of paper with a smaller carbon footprint and less environmental impact compared to regular paper.

This generally means it has been made from post-consumer waste instead of the wood pulp from trees. There are a number of benefits provided by using paper made from post-consumer waste. According to the University of Southern Indiana, for every tonne of paper recycled, we save:

      • 17 trees.
      • 380 gallons of oil.
      • 3 cubic yards of landfill space. 4000 kilowatts of energy.
      • 7000 litres of water.
      • 60 lbs. of air pollution.
Safe to say, making the switch to a company that uses eco-friendly printing paper is a no-brainer! 4. Recycling Strategy We’ve all heard about the three Rs. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. But in the context of print, what do these words really mean? It means ensuring the proper recycling programs are in place for all paper offcuts, boxes, press plates, and plastics. It means minimizing waste, energy consumption, and water usage. But above all else, it means continually striving to find new ways to use less while doing more. A good printing company will take recycling very seriously and do everything in their power to make sure they’re doing their part for the environment. 5. Minimal Paper Waste From Offcuts A green printing company will also have a strategy in place to minimize waste from paper offcuts. These are simply the areas of the paper that do not get used for the print piece. This process requires a skilled hand to arrange each piece so that there are no large gaps in-between printed areas, helping to minimize the waste from each print job. At ION, all of our operators have been with us for more than a decade and have perfected this aspect of the printing process. 6. Minimal Water Consumption Traditionally, printing presses used large amounts of water for a number of different purposes, for example, during the plating process or to mix with chemicals in chillers to help keep the ink cool. Thankfully, in recent years, many green print companies have gone out of their way to develop efficient systems that reduce the amount of water used in their processes. For example, at ION, we have managed to reduce our water consumption by more than two-thirds! 7. Efficient Lighting Most print facilities are thousands of square feet in size. In order to provide adequate lighting for such a large space, hundreds, even thousands of bulbs are required. That’s why it’s critical for print companies to invest in energy-efficient lighting systems. Simply switching to LED lights from incandescent or CFL (which release as much as 80-90% of their energy as heat) can save up to 80% of electricity use. That’s a major difference, seeing as lighting accounts for 18% of all energy usage in commercial buildings! We made the switch in 2008, and the difference was astounding. Implementing LED lights in our facility was one of the most important changes that allowed us to cut our power consumption in half! ION – An Eco-Friendly Printing Company in Edmonton Looking for an Edmonton printing company that does quality work and has procedures in place to protect the environment? ION has you covered. Our team has been committed to the highest standards of environmental responsibility for more than 15 years. ION’s eco-focused workspace includes:
      • LED lighting throughout the building (both print production rooms and office space).
      • Recycling programs for paper offcuts, boxes, press plates, and plastics.
      • Green printing paper made from a minimum of 30% post-consumer waste.
      • Chemistry-free printing plates.
      • Vegetable-based inks.
      • Reduced water consumption.
      • Efficient power usage.
Get in touch with us to make the switch to an eco-friendly print company today! I'm ready to go green!


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