Green printing is often hailed as another ‘buzz word’ in the media and amongst eco-friendly websites, media and other sources, but how many of us really understand why this is such an important practice, or even how the average printing process actually works? With such a huge volume of printing done all over the world, perhaps it is time to take a look at the realities of printing, to understand why we can and should adapt our practices to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Here are 10 interesting facts about printing that may make you want to consider that green printing idea you have heard about on the radio or read about online:
Almost 80% of the planet’s original old growth forests have been logged or degraded. 40% of the world’s industrial logging goes into making paper. This number is set to increase in the near future, to a shocking 50%.
Globally, the pulp and paper industry is the 5th largest industrial consumer of energy, using far more energy than recycled paper used in green printing, as well as more water. Printing is the 3rd largest user of energy after automobiles and steel.
The paper and printing industry is also the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with the industrial sector forming the largest level of carbon emissions across the world.
If a large country such as the United States cut office paper use by just 10%, the emission of 1.6 million tons of greenhouse gases could be prevented. This is the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road.
Countries such as China, India and the rest of Asia are the fastest growing per-capita consumers of paper products, however they still rank far behind countries such as Eastern Europe and Latin America (who produce approximately 100 pounds per person per year), Australia (who produces about 300 pounds per person per year) and Western Europe (who produce more than 400 pounds per person per year).
While managed print services are beginning to change the way people think about printing, from a global perspective only a small percentage of offices are choosing this option as a sustainable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly form of printing, instead continuing with poor practices that emit waste and add to the world-wide printing problem.
Using recycled paper in place of virgin paper for just a single run of widely read newspaper such as the Sunday Times would save thousands of trees, but printing presses across the world are still using virgin paper to print newspapers, fliers and other material.
In the printing process, wood fibres are often bleached with chlorine or chlorine compounds to make paper look whiter and brighter. When these bleaching agents are combined with organic matter such as wood fibres however, one of the main by-products is dioxin – which is an extremely harmful human carcinogen.
Changing over to green inks such as soy ink, or printers such as digital printers can make a huge difference, with easy to implement change that any company can do.
Without practices such as green printing, pollution, global warming, habitat loss and many other environmental issues would continue to destroy our natural resources.