Print SMART

How to Choose a Green Printer

U.S. businesses are some of the world’s largest consumers of natural resources. Among them are online printing companies producing business cards and other marketing materials, which contributes to Americans consuming roughly one-third of the global supply of paper.

How to Choose a Green Printer

While a lot of businesses tout “being green” as a badge of honor, called “greenwashing,” adopting sustainable practices goes beyond having a recycling bin for the office. When selecting a vendor for your business printing, it’s best to consider certain practices and policies, including but not limited to paper recycling, green printing methods, energy efficiency, paper waste, etc.

By choosing a green printer, you are not only helping the environment, but you’re also wielding a great deal of influence over how your particular industry should respond to today’s environmental agenda. Research printers that have adapted green methods of operation and production, and maintain active memberships or certifications from the following associations and organizations.

Green printing

Is your printer’s paper supplier FSC approved?

Does your printer’s paper supply come from responsibly managed forests? Businesses certified by the Forest Stewardship Council are championing responsibly managed forests that both protect these ecosystems and fight climate change. Processed paper from these sustainable forests are renewable, reusable and recyclable.

Be sure to look up your printer or stock provider on the FSC Public Search.

FSC logo

Is your printer’s paper supply chlorine-free?

Chlorine and its derivatives, such as chlorine dioxide, are the most common bleaching agents used by the pulp and paper industry. Using these harmful chemicals during paper processing releases toxic pollutants that damage the environment and affect human health over time. Processed chlorine-free paper offers an environmentally friendly alternative without using any chlorine.

Ask your printer if their paper is Processed Chlorine Free.

chlorine-free logo

Is your printer’s paper supplier part of Sustainable Forest Initiative?

The Sustainable Forest Initiative represents a forest-recycling program that ensures the replanting and replacement of hectares of trees used by the paper industry. The program not only combats global warming, but also significantly reduces fossil energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

Look for participating printers and paper suppliers bearing the Sustainable Forest Initiative logo.

sfi logo

Is your printer waterless?

Waterless printing is probably the greenest way to print. In traditional offset printing, the balance of ink and water is required to transfer an image onto paper. The resulting “fountain solution” contains tainted water and toxic chemicals. By using a special silicon-coated printing plate, water is no longer needed. Further benefits include a more simplified, economical and accelerated printing process.Waterless_butterfly_logo

An explanation of Waterless Printing

Traditionally, printing is a huge consumer of resources, including chemicals, water and energy. Many large presses can consume hundreds of thousands of liters of water per year as part of the normal printing process.

According to data from JL Lennard, a distributor of commercial printers, operating one shift on a conventional printing press can use up to 3,175 gallons of water per year whereas a heatset web press tops that number at 23,810 gallons per year. In comparison, waterless printing is an offset print process that simply doesn’t use water.

Another environmental advantage of waterless printing is reduced paper waste. Because waterless presses register color so much faster than conventional equipment, they reduce the number of make-readies needed and result in paper savings of 30-40 percent. Simply put, less paper wastage means fewer trees need to fall!

The world is facing massive water shortages by the year 2025. Waterless printing offers a win-win-win: Quicker, cleaner and a superior end product. Because it uses the latest print technology, waterless printing is far more efficient and precise. Consumers benefit from higher quality products:

  • More consistent color
  • Better color saturation
  • Lower dot gain
  • A 40 percent faster “make-ready” print time

You have customer power

Many printers will have at least some or all of these sustainable practices in place. Before ordering your next set of prints, do a bit of research and ask questions of your printer to ensure that you are advancing the green initiative.

Partnering with a green printing company, like Overnight Prints, ensures a better quality print product as well as sound sustainable practices.

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32 Comments

  1. I will try to use a green printer in future. I found this post very informative. I suppose that Overnight Prints must be a green printer, or you wouldn’t have posted this article…correct?

  2. Thankyou for the reply, Michelle. Yes, Overnight Prints is a green printer and yes, I could be accused of having an ulterior motive for writing this! Whatever the reasoning behind this article was, there is no denying that this is a real issue! Being in the print business, I can only write about what I know and what I think might interest our design customers.

  3. umm… I am not

  4. Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the visitors more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I’m more of a visual learner, I found that to be more helpful. Either way, thanks for the data.

  5. I found your site on google, great site, keep it up. Will return in the future. Submitted this post to Google News Reader.

  6. We have used your services for several years and did not know this about you. EXCELLENT! Too many people don’t care about the environment or don’t take it seriously. I appreciate your commitment.

  7. Kristi Neidhardt

    Yay!!! So glad you are offering greener options. Love how well thought out they are as well. Keep them coming.

  8. I would like to print info about paper and printing process on some of my clients projects (cards, brochures, etc…) Do you have standardized messages that I can use. I suspect many designers would like to be able to communicate this kind of information about their client’s efforts towards sustainability. I’ve looked before (maybe not hard enough) on the Overnight site for blurbs and logos but never really found anything. Thanks for the heads up, the email news letter and your post are of great relief to me because I use Overnight fairly regularly but also want to take care of the environment. Best of both worlds.

  9. Thanks for this information. Which of these practices does Overnight Prints currently employ? I recently wrote to inquire about environmentally friendly options through OP and was told only that the office recycles. I am thrilled that you are moving in an environmentally friendly direction and would like to know more details. Thanks!

  10. We have used your services for printing for our Fair Trade business, but didn’t know we were using a green printer! Now we are working with our church on its 175th Anniversary celebration and are wondering about the availability and cost of several items, since we have committed to ethically sourced items whenever possible for this celebration. I will send specific needs later, but wanted you to know that this business practice will gain you more sales, at least from this source!

  11. Hi Ben,
    I just want to say thank you.
    I’ve been using OvernightPrints for years because your quality and customer service is the best I’ve ever found, and this just is icing on the cake.
    Please pass my regards around- I am a huge fan, and I tell people about you all the time, now I am only going to sing your praises louder.
    Sincerely, JJ Gonson, Cuisine en Locale, Cambridge MA

  12. I am so proud that Overnight Prints is green – more, more!

  13. Can we have your products printed with the sustainable markings to let our customers know we are using sustainable/environmentally friendly printing from you guys?

  14. I actually just skipped using Overnight Prints for the first time in many jobs because I didn’t find immediate information on your site for printing on recycled paper. My client requested a card printed in as green a manner as possible and after looking around I found fully recycled papers and waterless printing elsewhere.

    I think it would be useful if Overnight Prints included an easy to find recycled option. Both my personal preference as well as that of more and more of my clients are now expecting recycled as options along with the sustainable growth and waterless.

  15. Joel Hickenbottom

    Hey Ben,

    Do I have to click a special button for ‘green printing’? Or does this apply automatically if I end up ordering the business cards I need to get?

    Thanks.

    1. All our products are eco-friendly! Order any product from overnightprints.com and you are choosing “green printing”.

  16. I was happy with your service before I knew you were green, and now I love you even more! I’ve shared this very informative (and very relevant) article with all my FB friends and have hopefully sent some new business your way. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Rose Penelope Yee

    It’s great to know that you are an environmentally responsible printer. I used your services before because it was convenient and cost effective. Now, I have a third reason to use Overnight Prints!
    Please include your environmental practices on your website so that future customers will know about these.

  18. WOW!!!! I print only a few things a year and have always used Overnight Prints. I am so glad that you are green.
    Thanks so much.

  19. Communisim Sucks

    There is nothing wrong with using technology that saves money and is more efficient but this “Go Green” propaganda has got to stop. This BS about “Global Warming” is nothing more than government propaganda to encourage citizens to surrender their sovereignty, resources and money to totalitarian regime. The next “Go Green” propaganda email I receive from Overnight Prints will be the end of our business relationship.

    -A concerned citizen

  20. i love overnightprints, and also didn’t know you were a green printer. like the person above, i was planning on switching services because there wasn’t green info on your site, and assumed you weren’t a green printer. put that info up there front and center!!! i love overnightprints and now can feel great in continuing to use your services.

    thank you!

  21. To Mr. or Mrs. “Communisim sucks” (I think you mean Communism) what kind of right-wing propaganda have you been listening too? Glenn Beck? The good people of Exxon Valdez who ignore all safe environmental practices and who milk Alaska for billions of dollars (and don’t pay taxes)? Just because a person wants to be environmentally aware, doesn’t make them a communist! That’s ridiculous and it makes me mad! It’s just a way for reactionaries to delegitimize the protests of environmentally concerned people! You should be ashamed!Global warming is happening, “communisim sucks” – when it starts directly effecting you, you’ll be the first person to “cry” and “weep” and ask “why is this happening!” It’s happening because of ignorant people like you!

  22. Okay! I think the debate on this subject might be getting a bit “political” in nature. Just to make this very clear; Overnight Prints supports eco-friendly print practices but we are merely a printing company and we are NOT associated with any political organization!

  23. Communism Welcomes You

    Lenny Redfurn,
    Looks like you should move to your dream land Russia. You would be very happy in North Korea too. There wore a long list of your dream land but the countries got wiser and tried to move away from people like you. Hope you have a great life there with Fidel.

  24. If you were capable of writing using readable vocabulary then I might be able to understand what you are trying to “get at” with your comment, “Communism Welcomes You”? You have me confused? I was certain that Fidel Castro was the leader of Cuba and not North Korea? Although I’m not sure what you’re trying to accuse me of, I will say that my personal views are not even very Liberal, let alone “Communist”?

    Also, my Father fought for this country in North Korea against a communist enemy and my family are from a proud military background -defending this country in several different conflicts against both fascists (like yourself)and communists. I too have been in military. What have you done for this country?

    I believe that “people like you” should move to another country. Maybe I can suggest moving to El Salvador – Saca has extreme right-wing views, you’d fit right in!

    Although my views have always been very moderate, people like you are seriously swinging my opinion over to a more “liberal” kind of thinking and voting!

  25. Ben, thank you for an interesting article. You make some good points — unfortunately, some of your numbers on water usage are either wrong or taken out of context. You write:

    According to data supplied by industry
    inspection company, JL Lennard, a conventional
    printing press operating only one shift can use
    3,175 gallons (12,019 liters) of water per year,
    and a heatset web press will generate around
    23,810 gallons (90,131 liters) per year.
    That’s a ludicrous amount of water wastage!

    In context: an average US family uses 350 gallons of water per day or 127,400 gallons per year (http://tinyurl.com/water-stats) – the same as 40 conventional printing presses or 5.3 heatset presses.
    And how many pages per month does such a press print? Ten thousand? Ten million?
    You also write:
    Some conventional web presses require more than
    25,000 gallons monthly, which is enough water to
    overflow an Olympic-sized swimming pool!!!

    An olympic pool measures 25 x 50 meters x 2 meters deep at minimum, and contains 2500 cubic meters of water or 660,000 US gallons – meaning it would take over two years to fill at a rate of 25,000 gallons per month. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_pool)

    I’m delighted that Overnight Prints is using the latest technology and sourcing its paper from companies using sustainable practices while maintaining the high print quality and quick turnaround that commands customer loyalty. Please, don’t undercut your arguments by using questionable numbers.

    1. Apologies if I was incorrect in my figures. I referenced the following source for a lot of this information: http://www.waterless.org/ Admittedly, my knowledge of this process is limited. If any blog reader would like to supply more exacting figures, I would be happy to edit these figures in my article .

  26. I am so psyched to see you are an environmentally conscious printer! I had no idea, I’d looked on the website before for options for recycled paper at least, but didn’t find any so I took my business elsewhere. You should add this info to the website for sure! Since I was a kid I’ve been kind of obsessed with being gentle to our planet. How can toxic chemicals and waste NOT affect the Earth – the soil, air, water.. us? and all other living things? Come on, people! There’s nothing whatsoever political about it, it’s just good common sense. Thank you so much for this info. I placed an order for postcards the other day after I found this article while searching for a green printer, and have many more orders coming.

  27. Hello,

    Great to hear that you are a green printer. Are you FSC certified? I did not see you on the list?

    Thanks!

    1. Jessica; the reason we are not currently on the FSC list is because we outsource our paper stock to an FSC certified company (so that we can provide better quality stock than other online print companies) Because of complicated certification rules, we do not appear to be certified! We are in the process of rectifying this error. I can absolutely assure you though, that our paper is FSC certified. Here is a link to our paper supplier: http://www.unisourcelink.com/paper/index.asp

  28. Neutral Density Filter

    actually, Fidel Castro is not at all a bad man. Cuba has one of the best government medical care in the world `,`

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    […] Costa Rica, I’ve considered making prints or posters. Keeping “eco-friendly” and being green in mind, I found OvernightPrints, a waterless printing company that stands behind […]

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