I love hiking, trees, fresh air and nature yet I work in an industry that kill trees while using supplies from mining bauxite out of the earth. Okay, so doesn’t that contradict with supporting nature and what the heck is bauxite?
Well, I’m glad you asked! First, to the surprise of many, the printing is very environmentally green. Ben Cooper, executive director of the Print Council, explained, “Our industry is a leader in recycling, sustainability, and pollution control”. Printers have pioneered these concepts in the past several decade.
Paper is renewable unlike products from other industries. Paper is very organic and the trees can and are regrown in federal controlled forests. Actually, we aren’t going out cutting down virgin forests so that you can read a brochure from your local doctors office. The paper is obtained from federal managed forests by Federal Stewardship Council (FSC) https://us.fsc.org/en-us. This means that we are getting our paper from the same acreage.
What about 100% recycled paper so we don’t use any trees? There is a problem with that because the paper would be very dark. Great amounts of chemicals and bleaches would be needed to lighten the color of the paper but where will those chemicals go in our environment? We don’t want to poison the water killing fish because we love fishing on our nice long camping trips. However, we do use press paper containing a percentage of recycled material. About 33%, a third, of our paper is recycled material mixed with FSC paper. Now we can keep our beautiful hiking grounds.
Bauxite is the principal ore of aluminum and we get press plates are made from aluminum.. I can tell you right now that we recycle all of our aluminum. This reduces the need to mine Bauxite. Taking it a step further, here at Dunbar Printing and Graphics we use zero chemicals to process our plates. Our plates are inscribed with lasers and taken directly to the press for printing. In our industry it is called ‘Process Free’ or ‘Chemical Free’ plates.
Printers are one of the pioneers to the concept of recycling.
Simply, we in the printing industry are ‘MAD FOR RECYCLING”!
Last, let’s take a look at the color we put on paper. Think press inks we use vegetable oil based inks and our toner is biodegradable just like the paper. This organic product printers produce is natural to the planet.
There’s an impact on the planet by every industry and if you look at media it has an impact. Media can be categorized in different types. Let’s compare digital to paper. According to the US Department of Energy US paper manufacturers have used 75 billion Kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2006. This sounds like a lot but much of it is renewable as previously explained in the blog. In that same year data centers and serves used 60 billion Kilowatt-hours which are derived from fossil fuels. Did I mention that doesn’t include your personal PC’s? 500 Kilowatt hours are used a year are used in personal paper consumption which is about the same amount of kilowatt hours to power a personal PC for 5 months.
Now I gave you old statistics from a decade ago for a reason. Data centers have reduces there used of energy as well as newer printing machines. Things are improving and getting better for everyone. What I want you to take away from this article is that printers are not harming the environment nor making small attempts to be ‘green’ but have pioneered recycling and made large strides in environmental friendly products.
Written by Aaron L. Mills