Tips to Implement Environmental Standards in Your Business

Implementing eco-friendly standards not only shows interest in the environment but also the company's ability to optimize the use of its resources.

Sustainable and eco-friendly production practices remain a high priority for us, especially working within the print industry – which can be harmful to the environment if not managed well. So how can you help your business to be as green as possible whilst continuing to print attractive, high-quality resources and materials?

At Elanders Print, we work incredibly hard to ensure that our materials, processes, and business standards are as ‘green’ as possible. So we were delighted to be awarded the title of Green Manufacturer of the Year 2013 at the Made in the North East Awards. Our dedicated efforts mean that we’ve also managed to achieve the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) Seal of Excellence, with a score of 97%.

Basic Tips

Saving paper where possible, many businesses both large and small can control paper use by restricting packaging, and postage and implementing simple procedures such as printing on both sides of the paper for standard documents.

Reusing and recycling paper is just as important. Documents that are no longer needed should be recycled, and sensitive documents should be shredded after they are used. This helps protect delicate information whilst looking after the environment.

Choose paper, which has been recycled and, preferably, is also Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. According to the charity Waste Watch, for every tonne of 100% recycled paper purchased instead of virgin fiber paper, 30,000 liters of water are saved, as is enough energy to power a three-bedroom house for a whole year.

Modern recycled papers are virtually identical to non-recycled papers. The cost has also fallen considerably, so if it’s an option you have disregarded in the past, it may be time to look again. However, check the actual percentage of recycled content in a paper. Sometimes a product marked as ‘recycled’ contains more than half virgin wood pulp. Paper carrying the National Association of Paper Merchants (NAPM) logo is certified to have more than 50% recycled paper.

It’s not just paper that can be recycled. Many businesses are now improving their green credentials and saving a lot of money by recycling cartridges from inkjet printers, which can usually be refilled or sold to a recycling company. It’s a win-win.

When it comes to selecting ink, there are many more eco-friendly options than there used to be. Try sourcing inks made with organic vegetable oils rather than unsustainable petroleum. As well as coming from a greener source, such inks also produce fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds), improving air quality.

Soy ink – made from soybeans – is becoming popular and is often used by newspapers. Many say it even provides better colors than traditional ink, and printers report that they use less of it to print the same amount: it’s understood to spread around 15% further than petroleum inks.

At Elanders, we use the ISO 14000 family of inks, which have the following benefits: saving the consumption of energy our printers use and the number of materials they use; lowering our overall distribution costs, which can be kept within the business or passed down to the customer; and of course, improving our corporate image among regulators, our customers, and the general public.

Related Post: 3 Steps to a More Eco-Friendly Business

Advanced Tips

All employees should implement a printer-friendly email signature to remind the recipients to reconsider whether they really need to print the email out. This is an easy change to make, and it shows publicly your company’s commitment to environmental practices.

You might also consider allowing employees to work from home either part- or full-time. Especially for those who require their car to commute to work, allowing them to leave it parked for a few days per week results in cutting down their carbon footprint as well as the overall footprint of the business. In the process, you might also improve employee satisfaction!

Selecting suppliers happy to work in tune with your environmental efforts is a major part of getting things right, but can be surprisingly tricky to sort out!

We have already mentioned choosing recycled paper and organic inks. Take your efforts further by choosing a waste contractor who will promise not to take any of your waste to landfill is a great place to start.

You could also think about recruiting renewable-energy suppliers to remodel the power usage of your commercial buildings. Depending on the amount of space and the type of buildings you operate from, you could potentially fit solar panels to the roof, generate electricity using your own wind turbine, or lay geothermal heat pumps – perhaps in combination with underfloor heating, which helps retain heat and eliminate the requirement for radiators in the building.

You might also be able to improve the insulation of the walls and ceilings in the building to keep the cold out and heat in, which will lessen the requirement for radiators to be on whilst the business is open.

For many businesses, computers and other electronic hardware burn a lot of energy. Educate your staff to maximize energy efficiency and enable their machines with power management, which will make the computer use less energy as it won’t be powering all components when not in use.

Furthermore, be sure to tell them not to use a screen saver – a misleading term that doesn’t actually save as much energy as you might think and depending on the graphic displayed can use more energy! Instead, set computers to automatically switch the monitor off once the user has been away from their desk for a set amount of time. And encourage staff to turn off their machine at the end of the day, which will help save the hardware inside the computer as well as cut down on energy costs.

Remember that hardware can be recycled, too. External components of computers, such as the keyboard, monitor, and mouse can all be reused with a new machine. If you are going for a total upgrade, then try to recycle computers where necessary – even donating ones, which still work to local charities such as care homes or childcare groups. And when you’re upgrading, think twice before your print out those training manuals: send employees digital copies of any manuals they may require via email instead.

Jonny Rowntree is a writer at worldwide digital printing partner, Elanders UK.

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