Greening Print Marketing: FTP = Green Alternative?

It’s a quick way to green your business and save money — switch to FTP for submitting files to your printer, your design firm, your distributor, or anyone else handling your graphics, audio, or video files. Manual shipping often uses non-recyclable containers and packaging materials, as well as requires fuel-consuming ground and air transportation.

How much impact can this really have? did the following calculation:

First, let’s say we’re going to send a printed document weighing about two pounds (representing approximately 150 pages of 20# bond paper with a plastic cover) overnight from Atlanta, GA to Salt Lake City, UT.

. . . With roughly 50 customers per server, each customer’s portion would be about 2.88 kWh per month. Using the same CO2 calculator from above we can estimate that each customer is responsible for 8.6 lbs. of CO2 per MONTH.

So, we can  see that sending ONE overnight package would be the equivalent carbon footprint of operating an online file transfer solution for over seven months. Clearly, online file transfer solutions are far greener than sending overnight packages.

(For details on how this was calculated, see the full article.)

Here are two examples of real companies that saved money and greened their businesses using FTP:

A construction management firm cut expenses more than $23,000 over the previous eight months exclusively due to file transfer. This was not a large firm, this was a big savings. The reduction came from their overnight and two-day delivery service and their reprographic costs for printing large-format plan sets.

An architectural firm was commissioned to redesign the exteriors of the convenience store outlets. The firm needed to get plans out to 24 different corporate and branch office locations of the client. In the past, this would have meant outputting 24 sets of D-size plots, packaging them in shipping tubes made of corrugate, plastic, and metal, and then shipping them via truck and air transportation to 24 different locations. This time, however, they uploaded one digital file containing all of the plans to an FTP site and notified recipients that they could download the plans and view them offline. The firm saved over $100 per location in overnight shipping and reprographic charges and earned significant carbon offsets.

While many companies do use FTP, others complain that the systems are too difficult to use. But new solutions are designed to be fast, easy, and very intuitive. It’s not your father’s FTP system. Look into SaaS solutions that require no training, no IT, and even that can be privately labeled to your own company. Many even offer enterprise-level security.

There’s no reason not to green this aspect of your company.

Examples provided by

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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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