Paperless offices have always been a possibility but it has yet to become a reality since printing doesn’t seem to be going out of fashion any time soon. Most people still appreciate printed media since documents, such as reports, are able to be annotated in their own handwriting and need to print out important documents such as contracts.
How can be minimise the environmental impact of our appreciation for printing?
Litho printing specialists at Elanders UK have complied some basic tips to roll out at home and at the office to make sure you’re doing your bit.
Choosing the Right Paper
In order to reduce the environmental impact of printing, recycled paper is the obvious choice here. Whilst the early-recycled papers were often unbleached, heavily textured and bulky, modern choices can be indecipherable from non-recycled papers. If that hasn’t changed your mind, the cost applied to recycled paper has reduced considerably in the last few years so if an option that has been discarded in the past, it may be time to look again.
The implementation of recycled paper in your business will save huge amounts of energy and water and according to charity Waste Watch, every tonne of 100% recycled paper purchased will save 30,000 litres of water compared to the waste virgin fibre paper generates. This equates to enough energy to power a three-bedroom house for an entire year.
Its therefore important to check the actual percentage of recycled content in the paper you’re buying. A product marked ‘recycled’ often contains more than half virgin wood pulp. Compare this to paper carrying the National Association of Paper Merchants (NAPM) logo is certified to have more than 50% recycled paper. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper, on the other hand, are marked with a clear stamp on certain brands. Although FSC paper uses virgin wood pulp, because the trees used have been grown in a very well managed forest, it can be as eco-friendly and sustainable as recycled paper.
Ideally, many sustainability experts suggest that offices using large amounts of paper should be aiming to source paper that is a mixture of both FSC certified pulp and recycled content.
Avoiding Ink Pitfalls
A generous amount of cash can be saved by regularly recycling printer ink cartridges, aside from the environmental benefits. Empty print cartridges can be sold back to recycling agents with the profits shared with you to encourage recycling in the future. Alternatively, they can be refilled and returned to you, meaning that you only pay for the ink inside rather than the whole package.
Organic inks, such as soy and vegetable based inks, are also becoming increasingly popular. The naturally occurring oils used from vegetables are used as the carrier for the ink compounds. Soy is a popular choice because of its stability, although its increasingly blended with other organic ingredients to make the best ink possible.
When organic inks are compared to standard inks, which are petroleum-based, organic inks are found to be less harmful to the environment because they release much lower quantities of volatile inorganic compounds (VOCs) or contain heavy metals.
Checking the certification of your ink sources is as important as checking where your paper originates from. Elanders UK, along with other commercial ink users and suppliers use inks certified to the ISO 14000 standard. The system shows that a company is dedicated to improving its environmental impact and quality standards. It is associated with lower distribution costs and savings in the use of energy and materials.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
Everyday behaviours within your company can make a huge different to your carbon footprint. Taking simple steps to implement reducing, reusing and recycling throughout your organization is vital to improving sustainability.
Make sure all of your employees are involved in the recycling process and shredding sensitive & confidential documents once they have been used, rather than binning them. You will need to check with your recycling service provider whether they accept shredded paper, as not all do. Some recycling service providers whereby secured containers are provided and the waste is shredded on or offsite offers shredding confidential papers before being recycled.
Getting suppliers onside is key. Encourage them to take back packaging for recycling once you have unpacked new items of equipment, for example.
There are more complex methods in reducing your offices energy consumption are well worthwhile in the long term, although they do come with high setting up costs. These options come in the way of fitting solar panels to the roof of your building or fitting geothermal heat pumps. These pumps gather natural heat from liquid filled pipes laid beneath the ground that can then be used to fill radiators, provide under floor heating and hot water.
You may even look into generating your own electricity using an onsite wind turbine. This would require planning permission but there are companies who will handle the entire process and they generate little noise – no more than a normal sion.
Elanders UK is part of Elanders Group, which is a company with operations in 15 countries on four continents. Elanders Group offers its customers global solutions for print & packaging, supply chain management and e-commerce.