DEEP Design has put together a handy introduction for what to look for in eco-friendly printers. It is very important that we make wise choices when choosing our suppliers – every little action, purchase and decision we make has an impact on an ecosystem somewhere in our environment!
Eco-friendly printing inks
Litho-printing may have been around for many years, but there is no need for it to use old machines and toxic inks. While many litho printers in Cape Town are still using machines that are 20-30 years old, which can only function with the old style inks, , DEEP, and some other litho printers, have invested in new technology printing presses, and print using environmentally friendly vegetable based inks.
How do you tell the difference?
Smell a newly printed page. Yes really! Old style toxic inks smell strongly of ink or alcohol. Those fumes that you are smelling are VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) which are chemicals given off in the printing (drying) process that contribute to global warming. Vegetable based inks and environmentally friendly printing processes do not give off these VOCs, so you won’t smell that strong waft of inks, when you pick up your printing.
What to ask your printer?
- Ask your printer how old the printing press is that they will be printing your brochures / business cards on? If they tell you it is more than 5 years old then beware.
- Ask your printer if they are using vegetable based inks? This is important to prevent greenhouse emissions.
There are a number of ways you can check whether your printer is environmentally friendly. Paper is perhaps the most obvious. Where the paper comes from and how it has been treated is something that should be taken into account when picking your printer. Using recycled paper is often thought of as one of the best ways to be eco-friendly. However, contrary to popular belief this is not the only way to use paper in an environmentally-friendly way.
Eco-friendly printers like Deep also use sustainably farmed paper. This paper is just as important as recycled paper because the large, commercial forests used for its production can actually make up for the effects of deforestation elsewhere. In fact, if you consider that 90% of deforestation is from agricultural practices and industrial expansion, the contribution of paper production is minimal in comparison. However, these forests can only grow if there is a demand for sustainably farmed paper. That is where you come in.
Do you know where paper gets its bright hue? Bleaching. But the elemental chlorine gas used to bleach wood-pulp can be toxic to the environment and even carcinogenic. However, there are ways to minimize the hazardous elements caused by bleaching. Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) paper is bleached using chlorine dioxide (as opposed to chlorine gas), which significantly reduces the toxicity of the paper. And Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) paper is bleached in a process that does not use chlorine at all. Either are eco-friendly alternatives to traditional paper.
Ask your printer whether their paper is:
- Sustainably Farmed
- Elemental Chlorine Free
- Totally Chlorine Free