Print for Environment + the Greener Print Procurement guide online
2006 :: public Launch, World Environment Day,
5 June 06 :: revision 5e . Communicating in print should not be at the expense of our environment, our climate and our long term future. As the many environmental consequences of commercial printing, paper and its related industries becomes more apparent, so does the need for change. This guide provides information on current best practice and the newer and cleaner print
process alternatives. Old practice of highly toxic and volatile chemical usage,
high CO2 emissions, VOC's, high water and energy usage in manufacturing, high virgin fibre content in paper,
and disposal of all these items continues to be a huge environmental load that is
not at all necessary. And, where these old practices are still
prevalent, the process or usage itself needs to re-designed to ensure the minimum environmental and carbon footprint is achieved. . The print industry is keen to show they are improving
in many areas but it's only through a combined effort from industry, designers,
specifiers, and consumers that will ensure best practice is ultimately reached.
This combined guide will empower you to make more informed choices if you are in the
position of specifying, designing, or ordering print. Your informed decisions will result
in positive, flow-on changes and longer term benefits.
. Re-Thinking the Design-for-Print Process .
Carefully select designers and printers
ensuring they have genuine green credentials. Professionals
with a full working knowledge of green design principles can make all the difference ensuring your work is produced with best current practice.
To reach your target market review the best method for delivery, reach, cost
and client understanding? Is print the best vehicle? For example, could a web-based
file in a Portable Document Format (PDF) be an alternative? Is there a less
resource-intensive way of delivering the message? .
The larger the project is in both the quantity and physical size, the more time and
care should go into the production choices. For example, a larger print run of 50,000 annual
reports is of significantly greater concern than a small quantity of, say, 200 business
cards relating directly to the quantities of resources used. Naturally this has relevance to each jobs' environmental and carbon footprint. .
PRINT RUN SIZE
Consider the print run size. The same as last time? Does it need to be this
large? Will savings in storage and lower startup costs for reprints allow a
smaller just-in-time style print run to be more cost effective as well? Assess
the quantity well to select closer to the quantity needed. Gone are the days of "it only costs a few cents to have thousands more"
as we now need to account for the loss of greenhouse gas absorbing forests.
Do we need a movie size poster or will a more modest size serve us well? Many
properties should be considered here from printed sheet size, stock weight,
print storage to mailing size. Multiple opportunities to save exist here also
from lower energy to transport, less space to store and reduced weight of course
means lower postage costs. Consider the weight of the 'stock'. If for short
term use, maybe go lighter; if longevity is required, a heavier stock that's also ph balanced may be
more appropriate. Consider the size of the sheet as another job may be planned
alongside or a more efficient size may be selected. .
Once it was all film and chemicals with all their associated toxic waste. Now
there are several greener options with top results including Direct imaging (DI),
Computer to plate (CtP) and Chemical free plates. All are variations of a digital
image that's burned or exposed to the printing plate. Proofing and soft-proofing is a continuously improving area with
many options with digital proofs are now the norm. Avoid film separations,
chromalin proofs or plastic coated stock if at all possible. .
Numerous print styles exist from traditional lithography to waterless to web
offset and direct imaging techniques. Several of these may be appropriate, dependent
on factors noted in this guide. Proper enquiries should be made into each printers chemical usage such as VOC's, Alcohol and toxic substitutes in dampening and cleaning solutions that are environmentally hazardous. Add to this the full range of environmental considerations every genuine greener printer should be both aware of and have in standard practice. Seek professional graphic assistance here
and always remember to verify "Is this process the greenest choice available?" There are
multiple factors that should be considered and asking informed questions is a major part
of that process. .
The less colours you use the better. However, if you're considering printing
with three specials, it may be cleaner and cheaper to print four colour process
due to its popularity as some press wash-ups may be avoided. Check with your printer. .
Greener preference goes to Vege based ink (usually linseed or canola oil based),
secondly to Soy inks (you may need to check the ingredients, as some labeled
soy may be only part soy based with the bulk being petrochemical based) and
thirdly traditional or conventional petrochemical based inks. Essentially, petrochemical
based inks have a more chemically volatile make-up, require more toxic cleaning
processes and are not made from renewable sources. For similar reasons, also
avoid or limit the use of metallic and fluorescent inks.
. Paper (Stock) Selection :: Consider these simple steps (and if they don't look so simple, contact your greener graphic professional).
If possible, as a first choice select an Uncoated
stock. For all stocks generally, for better recyclability, the less coatings the better.
The coatings of a stock are not readily recyclable so the more physical coating(s)
the lesser the proportional yield of recycled fibre. .
HIGH POST-CONSUMER FIBRE CONTENT (PC)
Ensure the stock selected contains as much Post Consumer fibre as is available for the task. * Naturally, 100% PC is the greenest option though 85 to 90% PC plus 10 to 15% PRE content extends the recycled fibre value. Check the
REAP guide for great Free comparative input here. www.srd.org.au/reap.htm
(regularly updated with new stocks) .
HIGH PRE-CONSUMER FIBRE CONTENT (PRE)
Second choice that it contains as much Pre-Consumer fibre as possible so the
combined recycled content is the highest available. (Please note: For this guide the 'PRE'
classification does NOT include Mill Broke. Be aware that Europe uses different
standards and some of their paper labeled PRE-consumer FIBRE content may be
only Mill Broke or fibre that has never left the manufacturing cycle and as
such is NOT really recycled at all. Tougher Australian and US standards specifically
disclude this misleading claim). .
CONSIDER TREE-FREE OPTIONS
Though less readily available, there are many tree-free alternatives that include
kenaf, hemp, bagasse (sugarcane fibre), even banana and other combinations that
are all fully recyclable or will nicely decompose in your garden compost or
worm farm as well. (Be aware that use the term "Tree Free" is specifically
to avoid confusion with the term "WoodFree". This is yet another misleading
term that we need to encourage to be changed to the more accurate "Lignin Free"
label as this is actually 100% fibre from trees). .
CARBON NEUTRAL (or How Much?)
A recent development is paper with some Carbon Life Cycle Analysis assessesment for which offsets are purchased to promote the product as Carbon Neutral. Like any offset process, this is far from an end by itself and also requires comparative evaluation. Watch for several factors such as where it is "CO2 Neutral to ...", usually only within the mill itself and then only to the Mill front gate which ignores many related carbon losses and is well short if the mill is literally 12,000 nautical miles away. Firstly, care needs to be exercised to ensure a full tally of all carbon released from the logging, forest disruption, log and or pulp transportation, all manufacture processes and transporting to final port destination is included. Then, look how it is offset to ensure they are with clearly beneficial projects as yet more marketing claims abound. Beyond Carbon offsets, there are still multiple benefits possible from all the other positive criteria combined to reach best practice that is needed to balance all the harm already done to our environment over many decades. We do welcome full and accurate carbon accounting with proper offsets. .
Bleaching should be in order of priority (least environmental cost first): PCF, that's
Process Chlorine Free for recycled fibre. Often of an unknown bleach origin but at least it's not bleached again. TCF is Totally Chlorine Free. As it's name
suggests only non-chlorinated methods are used. ECF or Elemental Chlorine Free
is less expensive to produce than TCF but yields around 2% more fibre. Papers bleached with Chlorine
or chlorinated compounds should be avoided entirely as their associated dioxins are highly toxic to marine and terrestrial life. Most chlorinated paper production has been phased out since the 1990s. .
FSC + RECYCLED FIBRE CONTENT
The Forest Stewardship Council is the independent body globally recognised as capable of accurately determining fibre origin by tracking it from forest to printer called Chain of Custody (COC). The FSC deserves encouragement for their work which is significantly raising the bar in sustainable forest resource management. Many companies around the world now support FSC Chain of Custody directly : Check companies in your country here just fill the categories as follows; in Product: "paper" then find your Country from the list and click Search. So look for this but ensure you check what percentage is FSC content and also what type as they label both Virgin and Recycled wood fibre. The two grades of most interest are "Recycled 100%" and "Mixed Sources" as only these may have PC recycled content. The first is self explanatory and the highest standard available however the second "Mixed Sources" may have good forest checking but only contains Post Consumer recycled content if specified.
SUMMARY: Naturally we first want highest possible recycled content. So, FSC Recycled 100%, High PC%, then High PRE and then FSC Mixed Sources with high recycled content, then high FSC virgin content, then plantation, then managed forest then unspecified origin, in that order. Please check fibre content properly as many marketing claims often make it hard to define. . THE IDEAL PAPER from the greener perspective would be locally recycled 85+% Post Consumer content
with the balance fresher PRE consumer fibre to allow continuing quality in recyclability. Minimum or Zero virgin fibre content and combine this with minimal
bleaching and thus higher in Process Chlorine Free with maybe some TCF bleaching
and with minimal or NO other additives, optical brighteners, coatings or finishes. Naturally the paper
mill should have good ISO and Environmental Management Systems plus FSC accreditation. Add to this complete LCA assessed and fully CO2 Neutral to your country, but don't expect to find this all just yet. Still we need to know what to request and what heritage a theoretical best practice paper would have.
. Greener Communication is rarely by accident ... .
PRINT FINISHES and EMBELLISHMENTS
What are the greener methods to enhance, protect, project an image or style or achieve a special effect? Simply water soluble coatings, products or processes are far less toxic than other processes and will ultimately compost better as well. Consider whether an embellishment may reduce it's recyclability, or even worse increase it's landfill life?
for example, creates far less impact than the addition of petrochemical based lacquer coatings or metallic finishes that have landfill life many generations beyond our own.
Wherever possible, select an uncoated paper as
first preference : : CTP (computer to plate) processes avoids film and uses less
chemicals. Ensure you use Newer "No Process" plates to avoid nearly all chemicals in
Prepress : : Water based varnishes are much safer than petrochemical
based : : Request vege based inks that have minimal
VOC's (volatile organic compounds) and low toxicity : : For short run printing some digital printers
may be the better option whilst for runs over 1,000 the waterless offset print
method still has numerous advantages including not being solvent based, prints
cleaner colours and superior results especially on uncoated stocks and overall
uses less water and energy : : Always check these details with your graphic designer
as projects, paper and printers vary greatly : : Print paper name, enviro qualities
and print specs. on each job to help others see best practice : : See GREEN INK
- GREEN VISION srd.org.au/#green for more.
Good Environmental Choice Australia. Find at this
link, the list of environmental labelling standards used by the Good Environmental
Choice program. Core performance benchmarks that products are verified against
for compliance in order to receive the Good Environmental Choice Mark. At
www.geca.org website, View PDF on
PRINTERS AND PRINTED MATTER
Comparative "life cycle" analysis of Energy Usage,
Atmospheric Emissions, Solid Wastes, Waterborne Wastes, Effluent Flow and Wood
consumption for five grades of paper. An amazing number cruncher that itemises
major environmental savings when selecting more Post Consumer fibre (PC)
over your current choice : : Though figures are non-metric, the message is still
clear that higher PC paper gives the greatest environmental benefit : : Follow
the link to the Paper Calculator created by the US Office of the Federal Environmental
Executive Task Force, U.S. Postal Service, EPA, and Environmental Defense. the
Paper calculator : : Then use the Neenah Paper Calculator tool to help with
/ quantity and metric / imperial conversions. .
.guide - Eco Paper selector
Comparative listings for a wide range of paper, listed in four major categories. These groupings plus specified percentages to much better define recycled content are major considerations toward greening any print project. Together these multiple factors help to define each papers ecological footprint. Information for distance travelled and the relative additional carbon footprint is based on the perspective from Australia and New Zealand. The REAP guide .