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Navigation: Minimum Sustainable Recommendations | What are the Issues? | What are the Options? | PDF Version

Did you know... InfoTrends research shows that organizations spend about three to six per cent of their annual revenues on print-related costs such as copying, faxing and output. These costs can be reduced with managed print services, or MPS, which allows a company to streamline its printing operations by hiring a printing provider to control and optimize the print environment (Matthew Barnicoat, Canada Business Review, September 25, 2012).

Minimum Sustainable Recommendations

When purchasing printing services, specify the following:

  • Water-based or vegetable-based inks for printing. 
  • Paper with at least 30% post consumer waste (PCW) and Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.

As on option, request the paper be processed chlorine free (see copy paper). 

Place the appropriate environmental logos on the printed article(s) to provide the reader with information of your environmental stewardship. Request the print company to seek authorization from the organizations offering use of the logo(s) to ensure its usage meets the organizational guidelines.  For example, to display the FSC logo, it must be printed by a printer or a print broker that has FSC chain of custody certification. 

Other things to consider

To minimize greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste production, the vendor should be encouraged to develop sustainable delivery strategies such as:

  1. Product delivery consolidations
  2. Efficient transportation logistics and route planning
  3. No idling of vehicles
  4. Use of fuel efficient delivery vehicles


What are the issues?

In addition to the impacts on forest ecosystems, (as discussed in Copy Paper) paper production, printing and inks also impact the environment.

Most inks are petroleum-based and emit air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.  The pigments in petroleum-based printing inks may also contain heavy metals that may contaminate soil and groundwater.


What are the options?

Similar to Copy Paper, consider the type of paper you are selecting for print jobs. Select paper that contains a post-consumer waste (PCW) content of at least 30% PCW and is sustainably harvested.

Consider inks that are water-based or vegetable- based.  Vegetable-based inks are manufactured using various vegetable oils mixed with some petroleum oil.  Vegetable-based ink is environmentally preferable over petroleum-based because:

  1. Vegetable oil is a renewable resource.
  2. Releases less contaminants and VOC’s.
  3. Vegetable oil is easier to remove from paper during the de-inking process, which makes recycling easier and results in less hazardous waste.

Water based inks are the most environmentally preferred. These inks further reduce contaminants, VOC’s and hazardous waste in our environment by limiting the amount of petroleum oil in the ink to less than one percent.


Last Updated: November 2013


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