WhatTheyThink Going Green is just a year old! We launched Going Green during Earth Week 2008. This year, to celebrate not only the 39th anniversary of Earth Day but also our first anniversary, we are happily announcing the winners of the first WhatTheyThink Environmental Innovation Awards.

While we can’t claim that this is the First Annual Environmental Innovation Awards – can’t be annual until the second one – we do intend to repeat this program. This award program is billed as going “beyond certification” and, since more than 2100 printers’ sites in the US and Canada have at Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody certification (many are double or triple certified by adding Sustainable Forestry Initiative – SFI or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification - PEFC), we expected a good turn out. For our inaugural effort, we had more than 45 applications submitted.

Here’s a quick over view of some of the initiatives and activities that our winners have put into place.

Quad/Graphics: Environmental Sustainability and Your Plant

Quad/Graphics has registered all of its 10 core facilities to be designated as green buildings through the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. To be LEED-certified a site must demonstrate 1) sustainable site development; 2) water efficiency; 3) energy efficiency; 4) materials and resource selection; and 5) indoor environmental quality.

As part of its LEED application, Quad’s Sussex plan earned extra points for:

  • Recycling 99% of all solid waste.
  • Participating in the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership for the company’s 100 trucks. In 2007, that prevented the emission of 12,658 pounds of CO2.
  • Purchasing GREENGUARD-certified, low-emitting products and materials to improve indoor air quality.
  • Avoided directing 35,000 disposable coffee cups to landfills with a program that increased coffee cup reuse 30% over the previous year.

Quad has a goal to reduce green house emissions 25% by 2012 through the EPA’s Climate Leaders program, and by the end of 2007 had reached a company-wide 19.1% reduction since 2003 (its base year).

Homewood Press: Environmental Sustainability and Your Processes

A small, 79-year old company, Homewood Press installed a 60-foot power-generating wind turbine to generate electricity to assist in providing power to their plant. Located in Toledo, Ohio, not far from Lake Erie, Homewood Press will generate about one-third of all the electricity the plant consumes annually. To supplement the wind power, Homewood is adding solar power in 2009. A rain collection system is also being constructed to reduce rainwater runoff by using it to irrigate its lawn and a garden area.

To “green” its printing processes, Homewood uses all VOC-free inks and VOC-free roller wash; the company uses returnable ink cartridges instead of cans to minimize ink loss and metal scrap from cans; all paper and corrugated scrap are recycled; damaged wood skids are repaired and reused, aluminum plates and cans are recycled; and ink residue and used solvents are recycled.

Patient News Publishing: Environmental Sustainability and Your Community

Located in central Ontario in a small town of 5,000 year round residents (and 250,000 seasonal cottagers), Patient News Publishing is committed to provide environmental leadership to its community.  The company spearheaded a project that ultimately drew 30 local businesses to collaborate on the development of a website called CatchingGreen. The mission of CatchingGreen is to “build sustainable business practices together.” Publishing News provided not only its experience with its own green initiatives, but also the expertise of web designers, programmers, and content managers for the development and maintenance of the site.

Publishing News is not only involved in local environmental programs, but the company has also a staff member on the organizing committee of Fire & Ice 2009. Fire & Ice 2009 is an event planned for July 2009 in Greenland where indigenous leaders will meet with business leaders, environmental leaders, scientists, and concerned individuals to address climate change and global warming.

AllpakTrojan: Beyond Environmental Sustainability

AllpakTrojan designs, prints, converts and fabricates packaging and displays. Packaging for consumer products is an integral part of the brand experience however packaging for industrial products is often considered a cost, not a value-add.

By designing and patenting a paper and corrugated solution for packaging industrial products, AllpakTrojan offers a substitute for foam and wood packaging that is less expensive, lighter, eliminates fumigation (to control the transfer of pests), and can be printed on.

AllpakTrojan – a user and supporter of lean manufacturing processes - is not only FSC-Certified and a member of the EPA Climate Leaders Program, the company is in the process of becoming ISO 14001 certified and a Certified Green Supplier for Nintendo, a long-time customer. The company’s recycling and waste management programs:

  • Recycle 100% of paper trimmings and waste oil
  • Reduced VOC emissions by 90% since 2001
  • Implemented radiant heat that reduced the amount of energy used by 30%
  • Installed F32T8 bulbs in 95% of the lighting units.

At the same time, the company purchases renewable energy credits (RECs) to ensure that clean wind energy is being generated.

Spirit Graphics & Printing Inc: Thought Leader

Spirit Graphics & Printing Inc. exemplifies how creative a moderate-sized printer can be when it comes to environmental choices.

The first moves Spirit Graphics made to become greener were the same most printers make: print on recycled stocks, plan deliveries to use less gas, and plan print jobs by color for fewer wash-ups. Next the company began to use all soy and linseed-based inks. Spirit Graphics moved first to CTP then to processless plates.

Chain of custody certification generally challenges a small printer, but Sprit Graphics chose to apply for – and receive – Chain of Custody certification from FSC, SFI and PEFC. Next the company joined Green Seal and the Chlorine Free Association.

The company began to shift from the ordinary when it relocated to Chula Vista, a small town near San Diego, where all but one of the company’s employees live. That move alone saves an estimated 80,000 pounds of carbon a year from reduced commutes.

Chula Vista also is one of the first cities in the US to adopt stringent green building and remodeling standards, including requiring regular energy audits, coordinating with local authorities to convert grass lawns to water-saving rock and shrub landscapes, and developing a solar energy program to help businesses install photovoltaic systems. Spirit Graphic’s new building – reflecting those building codes – has low flush toilets, auto shutoff faucets, and proper lighting fixtures. The company is now replacing all lighting with LED. The company also buys RECs for wind power through 3Degrees, a provider of green house gas emissions reduction credits. Future plans include taking advantage of the city’s solar program to add solar power to its facility.

Spirit Graphic’s community spirit is reflected in its hiring policy. The company hires recovering drug addicts and people that have been incarcerated. Looking to find good employees with a strong work ethic, Spirit Graphics has partnered Victory Outreach, a program that places rehabilitated individuals. So far the company has hired 4 people through this program; one has been with the company for 3 years and is now a production manager.

On a personal level, Thomas Ackerman Jr., owner of Spirit Graphics, has made a major environmental commitment by selling his traditionally-built house and building a LEED-certified green home with a solar system, gray water collection system, living roof, water catchment  system, and indigenous xeriscape garden.

Thanks to All!

Thanks to everyone who submitted applications! While we couldn’t give everyone an award, we want to recognize our participants by introducing you to our esteemed list of “Green Printers” over the next few months. It’s companies like these that are changing our industry – for the greener.