12 July 2012

Choosing 'green' for work printing

I work from home as a historian. Most of the work I do can be managed almost entirely electronically, so I rarely have decisions to make about the ethics of paper/ ink/ printing etc. However, it fell to me to arrange the printing at the conclusion of the main project I was working on for the last nine months.

I decided to use the Environmental Printing Company for the final draft reports. All were printed on recycled paper. I had intended to do some really high quality copies on gloss art paper, which would have been entirely plantation sourced, but this did not eventuate. The recycled paper does give a slightly grainy finish to some of the printed historic images, so next time I think I will go with the plantation-sourced non-recycled paper where images are important to the document.

The Environmental Printing Company lists their 'green' credentials as:
  • Using environmentally friendly products such as vegetable-based inks, recycled paper, and sugar cane paper.
  • Recycling all their waste paper and by-products.
  • Using 40% less toner than conventional printers and all of their digital components are recyclable.
  • Using environmentally friendly cleaning products on their machines with very low VOC levels.

The printed reports look great. I am so darn proud of them that I confess to (when no-one else was home) sitting them on the kitchen bench and just looking at them on and off for an afternoon.

I cannot quite describe how extremely relieved I am to have this project completed before our baby arrives! Maternity leave has now begun, with baby due in less than two weeks. While I am hopeful that blogging will continue, here's my advance notice that it could get a bit more sporadic after baby is in the house.

Initial Time: The only additional time was about 20 minutes extra on each trip to the printer compared with if I had used one a little closer to home.

Initial Cost: I now can't find the quotes I obtained but the Environmental Printing Company quote was very competitive, and cheaper than large chains including both Officeworks and Snap Printing.

Ongoing time or cost commitment: Zero, unless I take on advocating with the client to get the public print run also 'green' printed. As I will likely be caring for a newborn at this stage of the process, I am probably not taking that one on for this project.

Impact: The print run was small - six 200 page books - so its immediate impact is also small. However, supporting a small business engaged in sustainable practice is worth doing anyway, and promoting them here is possibly a bigger impact than my actual printing job.


A privately-collated national list of environmentally sustainable printing companies, which seems to have had some fairly rigorous criteria used to determine who gets a guernsey: http://www.earthgreetings.com.au/printers_directory.html (The Environmental Printing Company is the only one listed for WA)

Report on the use of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the Australian printing industry, including information on how they are a pollution problem and what the alternatives are: http://www.printnet.com.au/verve/_resources/VOC_Report_-_members.pdf

March 2011 edition of WME Environmental Business magazine, devoted to issues around printing and paper use in Australia, including general articles about what to consider when making decisions on printing, definitions of key terms, comparison of industry accreditation bodies, comprehensive lists of brands and companies and what they offer, and a whole lot of advertising (sorry about that):