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Embracing eco-friendly printing: a guide to sustainable printing services

13 Oct, 2023

‘Sustainability’ isn’t just a buzzword: it’s a way of operating that delivers tangible benefits to consumers, businesses and our planet. In an era where demand for environmental action and sustainability solutions are driving forces, businesses across many industries are shifting to eco-friendly practices.

 

The growing demand for sustainable printing

Print has been around for 2,000-odd years, and despite many benefits of an increasingly digital lifestyle, print remains popular for sharing information and packaging the goods we use.

But that doesn’t mean print practices haven’t changed or we can’t make printing more sustainable. The International Energy Agency estimates the pulp/paper sector was responsible for around 2% of all emissions from industry in 2022. Beyond ethical considerations, sustainable printing makes good business sense. It enhances brand reputation, attracts eco-conscious consumers, and creates a competitive edge.

That’s why we’ve built Rawson Print & Packaging around four pillars of business sustainability: human, social, economic and environmental.

 

Key ways printing can be more sustainable

In our 45+ years in printing and packaging we’ve seen a lot of change. Here are some ways printing is becoming more sustainable – and measures we’ve taken at Rawson to improve our own operations.

 

Equipment and technology management

Well-maintained and regularly serviced print equipment and technology operates more efficiently, minimises waste, reduces energy use and extends the lifespan of equipment.

 

Energy consumption

Transitioning to energy-efficient practices and machinery can significantly reduce a printing facility’s carbon footprint and lead to substantial energy savings over time.

At Rawson we’ve adopted energy-efficient lighting and invested in the latest printing technology, like our Heidelberg five-colour press that uses in-line aqueous water-based coater so paper is recycled without harmful by-products.

 

Paper sourcing and certification

Responsibly sourced paper is a highly sustainable and renewable resource. Much of the paper produced in Australia comes from managed forests where planting, growing and harvesting are monitored to strict standards.

At Rawson we source paper from certified suppliers who adhere to sustainable forestry practices, such as tracking wood/paper through the supply chain to guarantee its sustainable origins. That’s why we’re a Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) certified printer, with a globally recognised logo you can include on your printed materials.

 

Paper consumption

We can adopt practices that optimise paper usage and reduce waste, like duplex printing (printing on both sides of the sheet) and efficient design layouts to reduce page totals.

 

Recycled options

Remember the “reduce, reuse, recycle” slogan? Recycled paper or card options can contain as little as 10% or as much as 100% recycled material. The choice depends on your job, budget and environmental aspirations.

 

Inks and coatings

Some estimates put printing ink use worldwide at around four billion kilograms every year! But gone are the days when environmentally harmful petroleum-based inks and plastic laminations or coatings were the only option.

At Rawson we use water-based coatings (not plastic) to protect paper, and environmentally friendly soy and vegetable-based inks made from corn, walnut, coconut, linseed, canola and soybean extracts, often blended to maximise results. They print with the same quality and visual impact of traditional ink options – so your print job will continue to stand out.

Eco-friendly inks and coatings contribute to a cleaner environment and a healthier workplace for employees. We don’t have to use harmful solvents to clean printing presses, and it’s easier to remove these non-petroleum-based inks from waste paper before it’s recycled, saving energy and chemicals.

 

Digital and offset printing: sustainability considerations

Digital printing (like a giant version of your home printer) involves less setup waste but can be energy-intensive.

Offset uses metal printing plates coated in films and inks. It can use more water and chemicals, and produce more waste, including the plates. We like to use computer-to-plate (CTP) technology, which uses film-free plates, meaning fewer chemicals and less water.

Then there’s the client’s proofing process. We like electronic proofing as it means fewer materials, a speedy turnaround, and no couriers (meaning fewer CO2 emissions).

 

Workforce engagement

Sustainability isn’t just about production processes, but about our role in educating and involving our entire workforce, no matter their role, to embed a culture of responsibility and awareness.

 

Becoming more sustainable works

Rawson’s closed loop manufacturing minimises waste, and production outputs or byproducts go back into the system to be reused or are recycled. It drastically reduces what’s sent to landfill and saves resources. Over a 12-month period ending December 2022, we saved:

  • 2,989 trees
  • 920 cubic metres of landfill
  • 953,385 kilowatts of electricity
  • 547 oil barrels
  • 7,302 kilolitres of water
  • 564 tonnes of carbon

 

Benefits of sustainable printing practices

Now let’s discuss some advantages of adopting these practices.

 

Environmental and social benefits

Sustainable printing significantly reduces waste and our environmental footprint while fulfilling our social responsibility toward future generations.

 

Increased recyclability

Materials produced through sustainable practices are often more easily recyclable, contributing to the circular economy and reducing the burden on landfills.

 

Cleaner, more productive workplaces

Sustainable measures create cleaner, safer, happier and more productive working environments.

 

Economic efficiency

By reducing waste, optimising production processes and minimising resource consumption, businesses may improve cost savings and efficiency.

 

Regulatory compliance

Sustainable printing practices can help a business comply with evolving environmental regulations and legislation, and mitigate the risk of penalties or reputational damage.

 

Future-proofing business

As sustainability drives consumer choices, printers that prioritise eco-friendly solutions and investment – and businesses working with sustainable printers – are better positioned to thrive in the long run.

 

Bringing creativity and sustainability together

Sustainable practices and creativity work together: Our industry, and individual businesses like ours, have made remarkable improvements not by resisting change but through innovation and creative problem solving.

 

The future of sustainable printing

Embracing sustainable printing practices isn’t a flash-in-the-pan trend; it’s a social, moral, environmental and economic necessity for businesses.

As society demands more solutions to mitigate our environmental impacts and e-commerce flourishes, the demand for sustainable printing and packaging will only intensify.

Considering options for sustainable printing service Sydney-wide? Give Rawson a call to learn how we can help with eco-friendly solutions.

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Please Note: We do not produce corrugated items.

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