11 Killer Ways to Improve Sustainability in the Printing Industry

Overall, the printing industry isn’t considered to be the most sustainable. Whether it’s wastage, our carbon footprint or the types of materials we use, these can all be reduced or changed so that we all operate in a more environmentally friendly way.

There are various simple practices that can be put in place to make your business and our industry more environmentally friendly. If you’re not sure what these are, this post will outline everything you need to know on how to improve sustainability in the printing industry.


Review the Number of Printers Needed

Although you’re going to need a good number of different printers, that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your sustainability. Review the ones you currently have in your business and ask yourself whether you’re getting the full usage out of it. For example, in your business you may have three or four different format printers, but are you using them all to their maximum capacity?

If you’re not using them to full capacity, then your business sustainability levels are taking a serious hit. As members of the print industry, we should be working towards a higher level of sustainability and by having printers that you don’t use all that often is worsening our efforts.

The chances are that you won’t use every printer you have to its maximum and can afford to get rid of one. Work out and forecast whether you could cope on a smaller number of printers. If you can’t, why not look towards installing more energy efficient multi function printers? This would limit the use of single-function devices and cover for redundant or under-utilised machines.


Dispose of Printers Properly

This is where your business’ asset management is really put to the test. Strong asset management easily highlights machines and equipment that is broken, old or just needs a fresh update. You should always look for the most eco-friendly way to recycle your old machines. If they aren’t disposed of in the right way, they’ll more than likely just go to landfill and contribute towards harming the environment too.

Usually, the manufacturer of the printer you’re upgrading too will take away the old one and recycle it in compliance with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE). They’ll dispose of it in the most eco-friendly way possible, so you don’t have to.

printed windmills on office desk


Or Sell Old Equipment When You Upgrade

If the equipment you’re replacing is still in working order (even if it’s just parts) and in reasonable condition, you can sell it on to other companies and continue its life. Not only are you getting cash for it, but you’re also making sure that the printer doesn’t end up in landfill too.


A Strict Recycling Scheme

Similar to the disposal of old machines, ink toners, cartridges and paper waste can all be recycled to make for improved sustainability. Shredding paper waste is a great way of making the most of the room you have in your recycling bag.

The most popular way to dispose of these is that the council will come round and collect recyclable ink toners, cartridges and paper waste, but if not there are various businesses which do the job too. They don’t do this just off the cuff though, get in touch with them and see if you can agree on a contract similar to what the other businesses work from too.


Promote the Re-Using of Equipment

Encourage customers to re-use their equipment from previous orders to display their new signage. Yep, we’re suggesting to actually sell less, but when it comes to being more sustainable, using less materials is a big win.

For example, banners and frames for event marketing can be re-used. Rather than ordering new ones all the time, the old ones will do the same trick and you’ll save on sourcing unnecessary materials.


Encourage Multiple Use Designs

Customers may come up with five different banner designs in their head when really one design would suffice for all of them. Obviously, it’s their choice as to what they want to order, but in hope of improving sustainability and protecting the environment, we should encourage them to opt for one design for all and reduce wasted materials and energy.


Use Recyclable Materials in Your Printing

It’s not efficient nor beneficial for the environment to use harmful materials in printing. This doesn’t just mean the product that’s being printed onto directly either. Stands and frames can be made from old recycled metal or even carbon fibre.

Plus, the ink we use is one of the main contributors to environmental harm from the printing industry. Why not look for an alternative ink that is perhaps more eco-friendly?


Keep Delivery Numbers to a Minimum

We all know that wagons and lorries aren’t great for the environment, right? The number of emissions they release can cause large amounts of pollution, which is far from ideal. With that in mind, deliveries should be kept to a minimum. This works both ways too, deliveries of supplies and shipping of the end product. Try and order in bulk to save on various trips needed and try and deliver various orders on the same delivery round to cut harmful emission levels.


Implement Sustainable Habits in Your Culture

Sustainability improvement won’t just happen overnight. It’s a fact. It needs to be deeply ingrained in your business’ core values. It needs to come from somewhere and there’s nowhere better to start than from within.

Everybody needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet to ensure that sustainability is improved as much as possible. When on boarding new employees, make sure that they know what the fundamental recycling practices are in your business. That way, there’s no slip in the wrong direction from your business.

Here are some great tips to help you improve your office’s own sustainability:


  • Start a sustainability team who look after and raise awareness about new ideas.
  • Set targets and monthly goals. Healthy competition between workmates never did any harm, did it?
  • Turn off lights, electronics and heating every night. There’s no need for any of it to be on if you’re not there.
  • Cycle to work schemes or encouragement of public transport use and green commuting.
  • Items such as desk plants can improve indoor air quality.
  • Utilise natural light from windows.


Renewable Power Sources

In the printing industry, we use a lot of energy. It’s a necessity.. This can take its toll on the environment and our pockets, which is equally as important. How about switching to a renewable power source? There are various options which your business and the environment can benefit from, a double whammy!

Whether it’s solar energy or hydro power, there’s bound to be a source that is perfect for your business.


Make Your Office Paperless

This may sound daft as a printing merchant to be paperless, but it’s definitely possible. One way to significantly reduce the amount of paper used and wasted is with e-invoices rather than the more traditional paper ones.

Encourage staff to use their computers to take notes and store everything in the cloud. That way, you always have access to your documents and so do other employees if you’re off ill or on holiday. Plus, there’s no danger of you accidentally throwing out an important piece of paper. Not only will it improve sustainability, but productivity too.


Energy Saving Devices – Even Light Bulbs!

As we mentioned earlier, multi-functioning printers can improve the sustainability of your business and our industry. But they’re not the only device or procedure that can improve this. Why not put in place a system that your work is sent to the most efficient printing system? This will cut costs, improve sustainability and be kinder to the environment too.

Energy saving light bulbs aren’t going to solve all your eco-friendly worries, but they’re a start!


Make Sure You Treat Print Sustainably and Ethically

As the printing industry is inherently non-environmentally friendly, you’ll need to compensate by making your business more ethically correct and efficient. There are plenty of ways in which you can easily do this. If you’re not sure what they are, download our free pack below. It contains everything you need to know on how to operate in a more eco-friendly, ethical way.