Many printing organisations overlook how they can reduce their carbon footprint; this can be down to the expectation that all things green seem to cost more. Through a series of monthly blogs, we will be putting together some tips which will help printers to reduce their carbon footprint in an economical and effective way. Not everything green needs to cost more!
Waste management is one of, if not the biggest environmental issue faced by printers today. To be able to determine the best waste management option, consider the following waste hierarchy:
- Avoid unnecessary resource consumption;
- Recover resources (including reusing, reprocessing and recycling) and recover energy;
- When disposal is needed, dispose of materials both safely and lawfully.
If printers focus on waste they can save money, protect the environment and conserve the worlds natural resources. Some thoughts on how you can improve waste management:
Quoted in tip 2 “what is measured can be managed and what is managed can be reduced” this is relevant in any waste management strategy, as the first phase would be to conduct a waste audit and measure the amount and type of wastes you generate, then work out how these can be minimised.
Avoid waste by:
- Using raw materials more efficiently by reducing off cuts and converting more into products;
- Purchase materials more accurately thereby cutting down wastage;
- Cut down on chemical usage as it is both hazardous and expensive to dispose off;
- When making ready – reuse virgin paper so both sides of the sheets are utilised;
- Recycle materials to preserve resources*.
The printing industry has primarily three major types of waste products:
- Solid wastes – these could consist of developed film, used packaging, spoilages, damaged plates;
- Wastewater – Wastewater from printing operations will contain a cocktail of chemicals such as ink, clean-up solvents, plate coating and a residue of metals such as silver and iron;
- Air emissions – printing plants produce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from the use of cleaning solvents and inks as well as alcohols and other wetting agents.
*Recycling is an important process in any printers waste management strategy; items that can be recycled by printers are paper, cardboard, solvents, ink, ink containers, metal plates, cylinder boxes and pallets.