Informco is an integrated communications company with a seventy-year track record of success. The company, based in Toronto, began as an upstart operation serving the insurance industry with printing and consulting services and has grown to become a provider of integrated communications solutions to a broad range of industries. While recycling has always been part of their history, the company’s leadership in the environmental arena over the past thirty years is remarkable.
Over this time, Informco has chalked up a slew of awards and industry firsts for its work in this area. The company became the first printer in Canada to receive ISO 14001 certification and was recognized with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) award for its Pollution Prevention achievements. In gaining the ISO certification, years of good intentions and ad hoc environmental activities were formalized into a framework. It has created a culture where the company can set measurable goals that consistently reduce their operation’s impact on the environment
One of Informco’s most successful programs is the reduction of a major source of pollution coming from isopropyl alcohol --a 100% Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) and a smog precursor. The total Canadian VOC emissions from printing operations are approximately 26.5 kilotons (kT), so finding ways to reduce its contribution to this problem is important. Attempts in the past to reduce or eliminate the use of isopropyl alcohol were unsuccessful. Working with a consultant, Informco discovered that the cause of the problem was associated with the municipal water supply’s quality. The surface tension and conductivity of the water prevented isopropyl alcohol from being eliminated. To solve the challenge, Informco installed a 445 liter per day reverse osmosis system to treat the municipal water, removing the need for isopropyl alcohol. A low-cost option with a handsome return on investment. The reverse osmosis system prevents nearly 4 tons of VOC emissions per year from entering the environment and is saving Informco over $9,000 CAN per year in isopropyl alcohol purchases.
The company’s systematic approach also led to some less complicated solutions that have had an outsize effect. For instance, company employees noticed that cleaning solvents and other VOC emitting solutions were often left in open or uncovered containers. By enforcing a closed container policy, Informco cut VOC emissions by 14% or 1.1 tons, with a savings of $2,000 to $2,500 a year at no cost to the company. The treatment of contaminated aqueous waste on site also saves the company haulage costs and the risk of spillage while in transport and frees up floor space by eliminating the need for waste storage drums.
“At Informco we work under the idea that our company can continuously improve how we serve our customers and reduce our environmental impact. Why? Because we know it's the right thing to do for our business, for our environment, and our community,” says Sandy Stephens, Vice President, Operations, Informco.
This philosophy is embedded across the organization. Early on, Informco staff took the initiative to organize an environmental committee. Because of their efforts, companywide recycling programs ensure everything from packaging, chemicals, ink, paper, electronic components, plates, web cores, scrap metal and more are on a path to reuse. They also use printing supplies that are known to have less impact on the environment, such as vegetable-based inks, alcohol-free solvents, and FSC paper. All of the company’s policies are enshrined in a “Guide to Creating an Environmentally Friendly Workplace” booklet that was recognized by Environment Canada. Making good on its commitment to search for new ways to reduce its impact on the environment, Informco recently took the decision to transition its plate making to process free printing plates with the adoption of KODAK SONORA XP Plates. The switch, according to Sandy Stephens was, “seamless for our operators and the cost savings from the elimination of chemicals and reduction in energy use was felt immediately.”
“Our environmental programs set us apart in the industry. For our workforce, it gives them a real sense of pride to know they are the keys to our leadership in this important area for our business and the industry. We also know it matters to our customers and it stands out when we pitch new business. Of course, it’s also great that the benefits from our environmental programs trickle down to our bottom line by improving our productivity and yielding meaningful cost savings.”
Informco's environmental efforts, coupled with their operational gains, demonstrate that it pays to be green.