With the imminent launch of our new corporate brochure and with more and more questions asked around print media and the environment we thought we’d share print powers article that addresses in three stages the environmental impact of print media.
“There are a number of pressures placed upon the brand owner to ensure their environmental credentials are watertight. Consumer demands, Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and the constantly developing area of legal compliance all put sustainability firmly in the spotlight when creating any form of marketing campaign.
The creation of print media can be split into three stages: production, printing and consumption. For each point along this journey, there are a large number of industry processes, assessments and safeguards that significantly reduce the environmental impact of print media. Because of its importance, the issue of sustainability is also one of the most heavily researched areas in the print media sector, ensuring that the industry continues to do everything in its power to be as efficient as possible.
The production of the raw material for print media – paper – is perhaps the most obvious and emotive area for environmental concern. But while it’s assumed that making paper destroys forests, the opposite is true: European forests have actually grown by over 30% since 1950.
Forests used in the paper-making industry are also well managed and sustainable, with certification schemes such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) ensuring that paper used in newspapers and magazines, plus catalogues and other forms of marketing comes from sustainable forest sources. Thanks to the use of biomass energy rather than fossil fuels, the industrial process of producing the paper is also relatively efficient. On average, it takes 500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity to produce 200kg of paper, the average amount of paper each person consumes per year. This is equivalent to powering a computer continuously for five months.
The printing process is constantly becoming more environment-friendly, refining its materials and processes to reduce its impact. One of the major ways printers do this is through ‘environmental printing’, a commitment whereby they strive to reduce their carbon footprint across the entire company. This is done through the use of vegetable-based inks, recycling cleaning solvents and waste, sourcing paper from sustainable and well-managed forests, and offsetting any remaining carbon emissions.
Of course, one of the best ways the printing industry reduces its environmental impact is through the use of recycled paper. Paper is one of the world’s most recycled materials – far more than plastics or glass – and is one of the few materials that’s able to be completely recycled.