Earlier last month, a Democratic assemblyman in California introduced a bill to reduce the waste created by one-time use plastic straws in sit down restaurants as a way to "raise awareness about the detrimental effects of plastic straws on our environment."  Increasingly, it seems as if no environmentally responsible decision can be too small, but for some small businesses, being environmentally conscious comes at no small cost. The practices of companies like Pittsburgh-based Broudy Printing Inc., however, show that it pays to care about our environment, especially in an industry that some may see as unsustainable.
"We believe sustainability is important," says Matthew Mallet, President of Broudy Printing Inc. "It's good for the planet and for our image as well as the image of our industry."
As a family-owned printer, Broudy Printing Inc. is run by Mallet and 42 other employees.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) first certified Broudy in 2008, but to Mallet's memory, Broudy has always made the decision to implement various eco-friendly practices. Even with that long history, sustainability is an ongoing process that can always be improved. In 2010, Broudy began using a Solvent recycling system, a several thousand-dollar investment that paid for itself within a year or two by reducing the need to purchase virgin solvent and cut out the cost of hazardous waste removal.  Additionally, in 2011, Broudy agreed to purchase wind energy for 100% of its conventional electricity consumption. That agreement with Community Energy made it possible for Broudy to enter into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership. 
Of course, there are costs to making environmentally conscious choices in business.
"While there are costs to eco-friendly inks, eco-friendly fountain solutions, recycling equipment, storing waste for recycling, and maintaining FSC certification, these costs are relatively small and worth the investment that fits with our sustainability values," says Mallet.
Oftentimes, environmentally conscious choices help Broudy's bottom line. By recycling paper, corrugated boxes, plates, ink, and solvents, Broudy is able to save money by not needing to buy materials and instead receive money for the raw commodities.
In their commitment to sustainability, Broudy is conscious of creating less waste and therefore uses fewer materials like boxes, paper, ink, and plates when working on a job. One example is the speed at which Broudy chooses to run their printers. Running printers at a slower speed allows them to reduce waste by recognizing mistakes faster than if the speed on the machine were turned up higher.
Those simple, deliberate decisions allow them to maintain competitive prices.
"Sustainability is just one of many important factors to our clients," says Mallet. "I feel that as long as our pricing is competitive, most of our clients prefer to use a printer like Broudy with many eco-friendly practices."
Mallet believes that their sustainability practices play a part in attracting clients to do business with them. Clients of Broudy include institutions integral to the economy of Pittsburgh like UPMC, Carnegie Mellon University, and PNC, in addition to companies known nationwide like Bayer, Philips, and American Eagle.
According to Mallet, not only has every request for information that Broudy has completed in the last ten years asked about sustainability, but also their sustainable practices become a frequent topic of discussion when meeting with a new client and giving them a tour of the facility.
Costs in the short term are not as much a concern for Broudy as much as the future survival of the printing industry. If a client feels that printing is an irresponsible environmental decision, they may just decide to print less by eliminating non-essential printed materials.
Broudy Printing Inc. is just one company working to dispel misconceptions that print is an unsustainable industry responsible for killing trees, pollution, and that making eco-friendly business decisions hurts a company's bottom line, while also proving that the industry can be highly sustainable since it is fully recyclable and made from entirely new resources.
If you're interested in sustainability, our Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS)  team can help you and your business formulate sustainability goals to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) certification.