Steps can be as simple as recycling paper in-house or as complex as installing solar panels and even attaining Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) accreditation.

Trucost reports the world’s top firms cause $2.2tn of environmental damage, with greenhouse gas emissions one of the top contributors. Legislation, end-user and economic, along with dedicated business owners are key drivers but companies also look to certification processes such as ISO14001 for a more structured approach. Customer demands in the Middle East and criminal law in Italy require companies to apply for environmental certifications.

The next greatest influencer is the end-user particularly via new purchasing policies and management, while cost cutting exercises have helped the Australian printing industry reduce its environmental impact by 97% over the last 20 years.

High-profiled FSC and PEFC grades, as well as increased demand for recycled and carbon neutral grades, enable paper choices that aid environmental impact. Companies can also mitigate manufacturing impact by subsidising projects through carbon offset credits. Currently there is no international standard for printers on carbon impact reduction but the forthcoming ISO 16759 should address this.

Sustainable measures can be adopted as part of day-to-day litho printing such as installing an emissions reducing energy efficient press or eliminating on press chemicals. Then there is digital print’s ability to produce personalised and short runs that ensures only what is required is produced. Software development can improve job planning and optimize scheduling and softproofing can also save time and transportation costs. Work has also centred on less harmful ink formulations and improved deinkability.

As the true cost of waste can be as much as 4% of a company’s turnover taking steps to reduce, reuse and recycle are critical. Sustainability is high on everyone’s agendas and following a lot of hard work the industry has a strong positive message to shout about.