Sustainability Resources

Here you will find articles, links, and other information related to green and sustainable printing.

These resources provide information on a variety of sustainability topics applicable to the printing industry, including:

Becoming a Green Printer

Becoming a green printer does not happen overnight, but these resources can help you begin the process:

Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing reduces waste and operating costs. These resources will help you implement strategies and techniques to reduce the costs associated with the seven wastes indentified by Lean manufacturing.

  • EPA Lean and Environmental Toolkit. This EPA toolkit offers practical techniques and strategies that can help make environmentally protective lean decisions a routine task of your business operations. The toolkit is available on the EPA’s “The Lean and Environment Toolkit.”

Responsible Sourcing

Obtaining and using input materials to manufacture finished products is one of the most critical aspects of a sustainability program. In many instances, especially from the perspective of print customers, consumers, and environmental groups, it is the primary or sole aspect of concern. In fact, those printing companies that do not institute a program to determine the source of the components that are used to prepare their input materials run the risk of exposing themselves and their customers to negative publicity and even legal troubles, especially as it pertains to the Lacey Act and paper made with fiber that has been illegally obtained.

This is why it is important to gain a better understanding of the sourcing of raw materials as well as the manufacture of input materials. Practicing “due diligence” regarding the sourcing of input materials will help alleviate many concerns and significantly reduce the risk associated with using materials that are harmful to the environment, harmful to employees, and in some instances, illegal. 


Since paper composes the core component of almost all commercial printing jobs and is the input material with the most significant environmental impact, it often receives the most attention. Two important aspects associated with paper souring are establishing a paper procurement policy and understanding the source of the fiber that is used to make the paper. The two are complementary, and a well crafted paper procurement policy serves several purposes as it sets the standard for the company and becomes one of the primary communication tools for customers and other interested parties as well as being the cornerstone of any due diligence program required under the Lacey Act. 

For more information on responsible paper sourcing, please see the following articles:

Paper Procurement Policy

A paper procurement policy states the steps that a printer will take to responsibly source their paper. It includes goals and commitments that a company will make and communicate, often including issues such as increasing the use of paper containing recycled fiber, giving purchasing preference to papers that are elemental chlorine free, or using paper sourced from well managed forests.

The following links provide some examples of existing paper procurement policies.

Paper Sourcing

Paper suppliers have a wealth of knowledge about the source of the fiber used in their papers and are the best resource for information about paper sourcing. The resources identified below provide additional information on paper sourcing. However, one should be cautious when using these resources. It is important to understand that the information is not comprehensive and that each organization is using its own set of criteria to determine the environmental impact of paper and the paper manufacturing process. There is no set of universal criteria to determine the environmental impacts of paper. These resources provide additional information to be considered.


Ink represents the second most common input material that receives attention from print customers, consumers, and environmental groups. There are several environmental aspects associated with inks that are important to consider that include volatile organic compound emissions, hazardous air pollutant emissions, heavy metals, renewable resource content, and recyclability. For information on responsibly sourcing ink, see the resources below:

Energy Efficiency

Improving your energy efficiency is an important step toward saving money and reducing your emissions of air pollutants, including greenhouse gases. Below are some resources to help you increase your energy efficiency:

  • The ENERGY STAR program is a joint EPA and Department of Energy program designed to recognize those products and companies that meet voluntary energy efficiency goals.

    Important Note: The ENERGY STAR Program announced new requirements for computer monitors that wish to earn the ENERGY STAR label. The EPA estimates that, on average, ENERGY STAR monitors that qualify for the label will be 20 percent more efficient than those that do not.
  • Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE): The DSIRE database is a comprehensive source of information on federal, state, utility, and local incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • The Department of Energy’s Save Energy Now is a voluntary program to help industry reduce energy intensity by 25% in ten years. Resources available include software, fact sheets, case studies, and webinars to assist in identifying energy saving opportunities.

Pollution Prevention (P2)

The best way to fix an environmental concern is to prevent it from happening in the first place. These resources help you find ways to prevent releases of pollution at your facility.

  • P2 Checklist for Lithographic Printers. The first step in preventing pollution is to identify pollution streams and prevention opportunities. The PNEAC P2 Checklist for Lithographic Printers organizes pollution prevention opportunities by operation, from platemaking to chemical storage.

Carbon Footprinting

More and more, consumers and companies alike are asking questions about the carbon footprint of the products they purchase and the companies they purchase them from. But estimating your carbon footprint can be a confusing and controversial task. Below are resources that describe how to accurately estimate your company’s carbon footprint. There are many different ways to calculate your carbon footprint.

  • “Calculating and Reducing Your Carbon Footprint.” This 2008 PNEAC Article of the Year by Paul Jakubski, Director of Environmental and Safety for Dow Jones, Inc., describes the steps you need to take to calculate your carbon footprint.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!

There are three Rs of green and sustainable printing. When printers think recycling they may think paper, but most input materials can be reduced, reused, and recycled in some form or another. Below are resources that help you reduce, reuse, and recycle your solvents, inks, office supplies, and paper.

  • eCycling: The EPA maintains an eCycling website with information on reducing and recycling your electronic waste.

For more information contact Gary Jones at 800-910-4283, ext. 794 or by clicking here.

Published on Monday, January 10, 2011 (updated 06/03/2016)