Environment friendly printing, does it exist?


Environment friendly printing, does it exist? Communication has shifted increasingly from paper-based media to electronic media such as computers, smartphones and tablets. But print still has an added value; great graphic designs look better in print. Paper is also more durable, more tangible. Do you avoid printing flyers or brochures purely for environmental reasons? Think again. Printing can be very good for the environment, at least if you take into account some important aspects. And no, environmentally friendly printing doesn’t need to be more expensive.

Environment friendly printing and commercial forestry

Commercial forestry serves the furniture and construction industry, but it also produces wood for the paper industry. The trees’ medium sized branches are suitable for paper production. In commercial forests trees are chopped and new trees are planted. Natural regeneration also helps preserving these forests. Commercial forests function as green lungs and reduce enormous amounts of CO2. Wood obtained from commercial forestry is completely environment friendly. You can’t compare this to chopping away tropical rain forests (tropical wood for furniture, palm oil plantations,…). Almost all the wood processed into paper (in Europe) comes from Europe or Russia. European forestation annually increases with 3%, of which 2% is being used for the commercial forestry. The energy to produce paper is obtained on the spot, from the biomass (bark + lignin).

Recycled paper = ecological paper

Recycled paper is made from recycled fibre from waste paper. It carries the recycling symbol and is marked ‘recycled’. The recycling of paper brings with it many environmental advantages such as less greenhouse gas emissions from transport. Waste paper can be found everywhere, so there is no shortage of raw material for manufacturers of recycled paper. Recycling also reduces waste, paper can be recycled up to seven times. It is also easier to make pulp from paper than from wood, so the manufacture of recycled paper requires less energy (water and electricity).

Other eco- friendly measures

  • Choose vegetable oil-based ink. In this type of ink the vegetable oil is used instead of mineral oil.
  • Many papers are bleached. Choose unbleached paper, or at least avoid paper bleached with chlorine.
  • Make sure the printer uses vegetable solvents instead of organic ones and that no alcohol-based solvents are used.
  • DES (deep eutectic solvents) will enable the paper industry to make big energy savings in production and to use raw materials more efficiently. This new – fully vegetable – solvent makes it possible to dissolve wood chips, and therefore also lignin. The lignin produced is very pure and this opens up new possibilities for the paper industry.

About the author

Tom Hoens

manager and print broker, strong in creative thinking, crazy about Apple

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