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A Good Environment for Printing

It is often the case that things are not as they seem and our impressions of a person or a situation can actually be entirely different to reality. Things which are considered black and white are often not as straight forward as initially thought and pre-conceived ideas can be questioned when someone brings additional information into a discussion.

The above is true of the environmental effects of printing. For years, those not in the printing or creative industry have conveyed the message that printing is an undesirable form of communication. Information including reasons why we shouldn’t print emails and why we should revert to online brochures / e books etc. is becoming increasingly apparent; however the other side of the story is often not discussed as much. We must consider that paper is one of the only renewable raw materials we have at our disposal.

Printing is not a wasteful means of communication and is in fact a sustainable method of disseminating information. According to a European andUSsurvey undertaken by Two Sides in 2011, consumers are not properly aware of the truth about printing. 80% of those surveyed believe that European forests are smaller or the same as 50 years ago. The fact is they are actually 30% bigger. Unlike so many materials which are farmed worldwide, trees are re-planted regularly so the stocks are not depleted below a reasonable amount; for every tree cut down two more are planted.

Another consideration is that paper is a recyclable product so it doesn’t have a once in a lifetime use. Paper is actually one of the most recycled items in the world. In the last 20 years there has been an increase of 89% in the amount of paper products which are now recycled. The total amount of paper products which were recycled in 2010 alone was 63%.*

There are a number of processes in place within the printing industry which offer environmental benefits:-

  • Alcohol-free presses
  • Vegetable inks
  • Waterless printing
  • Use of recycled paper stocks
  • Use of FSC accredited paper stocks
  • ISO14001:2004 Environmental Standard, which ensures that your print firm continues to be environmentally friendly
  • Carbon balancing paper
  • Recycling of all packaging, board, paper, plastics, glass and aluminium
  • In-line ink pumping systems installed to reduce ink container wastage

Whilst printing has many environmental benefits that people are not necessarily aware of, we do not champion printing simply for printings sake. At Matthews the Printers, we believe that whilst it is an important component of today’s marketing mix, it is even more powerful when coupled with other marketing methods, such as digital. Businesses are now able to mix printed marketing material along with digital practices to produce campaigns which include various methods of communication. A brochure which has been printed, can point the reader in the direction of a company website which can continue the story which began in hard copy, or vice versa. Mixing these methods is not only useful but extremely powerful for businesses as they have a source where information is stored unaltered, the printed item, coupled with an online presence that can be updated and amended daily. In this way, you can continuously keep your customers or clients informed and up to date whilst not eliminating any potential market or consumer.

In summary, print is often considered to be bad for the environment, however as this article explores, the industry is committed to paying attention to the environmental impacts of printing and there are in fact now many processes in place which can assist with the historical negative impact. Finally, along with these enhancements within the printing industry, as we have explained, when you use collaborative marketing efforts and mix traditional printing with digital enhancements, you are not only moving with the times but also embracing a more environmentally aware method of marketing.

Gemma Firth, Marketing & Business Development Manager, Matthews the Printers.

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