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Greening Print Marketing: Four “Green” Characteristics of Digital Printing

Xerox iGen 4

If you want to “green” your print marketing, one way to do it is to print using digital production printing. How is digital production “green”?

There are three types of digital print production:

  • Dry toner (xerography)
  • Liquid toner (used exclusively in the HP Indigo presses)
  • Continuous inkjet (used both for light production and high-volume presses)

Because of the number of variables that impact the lifecycle of a printed product, and because of the strides being made by offset printers to green their operations, it is difficult—if not impossible—to make a categorical statement that “digital production is greener than offset.” However, there are some unequivocal factors about digital print that will please those looking to become more environmentally sensitive in their production and management of print.

1. Digital presses do not use offset plates or the way offset presses do. This means they don’t require spray powders, cleaning solvents, or the same solid waste disposal requirements of their offset counterparts.

2. Although liquid toner and inkjet presses do use “ink” that contains very mild solvent, these presses emit little or no VOCs. In fact, they are so clean that they can be run in standard office environments.

3. Because digital presses don’t emit harmful emissions, they don’t require ventilation or emissions capture required of offset presses. This reduces their overall energy consumption.

4. Digital presses can print a wide range of recycled substrates. While these presses once had the drawback of being restricted to a limited number of substrates, restricting the options for use of recycled stocks, this is no longer the case. The range of stocks certified for these presses has exploded. You may not be able to print every stock on every press, but the range is sufficient that, if your goal is effective, professional print marketing (as opposed to being inflexible about needing to have a specific stock and only this stock or trying to push the envelope with exotic stock), you should have little trouble finding something that meets your needs.

If you are looking to “green” your print marketing, this isn’t a bad place to start.

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Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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