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Sustainable Best Practices: A New Approach to Printing

(August 2009) posted on Fri Aug 07, 2009

The popularity of sustainable printing is gaining momentum in the screen-printing industry. This discussion describes some of the ways you can actually make your operation more sustainable and highlights the cost savings associated with eco-friendly business decisions.

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The concept of best practices has been around for a long time, but the extension of best practices into sustainability is relatively new—especially for the screen-printing industry. Basically, best practices are activities or methods that produce desirable results in the most efficient and effective ways. Do you test and document the processes by which your shops makes screens, sets up presses, or packages jobs for shipment? If so, your business is already engaged in establishing best practices.

The next step you should take is to evaluate your operation in terms of sustainability and determine ways in which you can implement the best practices described in this article. To simplify matters, we’ll divide best practices for sustainability into three areas: the product, the process, and the envelope.

The product
You know what your products are, but expanding the way you define them to include the design aspects and materials used in their creation brings you closer to best practices for sustainability. Consider the following simple steps you can take and programs you can implement.

Have a discussion with your customers about the most effective ways to use materials. Don’t expect your customers to come with suggestions in hand. You are the print expert—the customers will look to you for guidance. Would a slight change in graphics allow for more efficient use of an ink? Less ink? A lower temperature for ink curing? Less waste? Think about the options you can offer your customer. Making the right changes may result in cost savings for you.

Establish routine, formal meetings with your suppliers. At these meetings you can ask about new products or options that are available to you. These meetings also afford you the opportunity to discuss your facility’s plans and engage the suppliers in conversations as to how they can help you achieve your goals. Suggested topics include:


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