Is The Printing Industry Eco-Friendly?

With major campaigns and global protests focusing on the environmental dilemmas that are being created by humans at the moment, you may be taking more care when considering the sustainability of the activities you participate in.

This applies not only to the products you buy as a consumer, but the services you rely on as an employee or business owner. There are so many different, diverse industries to consider in this context, so for now let’s just focus on one; the printing industry.

To establish whether or not printing is eco-friendly, we need to dive into the various materials involved, as well as the practices that are enabled and encouraged by its existence.

Image Source: Pixabay

Printers & Ink

The environmental impact of buying a printer will vary wildly depending on the manufacturer you choose and the kind of ink you use.

There are ethical brand rankings for mainstream printer firms, with Brother and Lexmark amongst the best rated operators while poor scores are achieved by Samsung and HP. Acting in an eco-conscious way when making buying decisions can have a major impact on industries like this, encouraging the worst performing firms to clean up their acts.

Printer ink is often incredibly expensive in its own right, as well as being problematic from both a waste perspective and prone to creating environmental hazards. Thankfully you can visit site solutions provided by ink producers like Needham in order to see the range of eco-solvent and water soluble varieties which are being created with sustainability in mind.

You can also reduce the carbon footprint and ethical conundrums surrounding printing by refilling old ink cartridges rather than buying new ones, as well as seeking out second hand printers for the same purpose.

Trends & Habits

Paper waste is a real issue and one which has been highly publicised for decades. In a business context, people are advised to avoid printing out emails and documents unless strictly necessary and recycling collections are becoming increasingly important as a means of dealing with the large volumes of waste material generated by current habits.

However, even in what might appear to be a fairly clear cut argument, there is still room for debate. For example, the idea of keeping data indefinitely in a digital form might seem like it is more environmentally sound than printing it out to convert it into a physical form, until you consider the amount of energy that is consumed by data centres where most information is stored.

Within the next half decade, a quarter of all the world’s energy use could be accounted for by data centres. Conversely as soon as something is printed, it can be deleted and it will no longer be placing a burden on the world’s resources, so long as it is properly stored.

It is unlikely that the clock will be turned back on these habits, so while printing is becoming less common, it will neither disappear completely nor enjoy an eco-inspired resurgence of popularity. So long as care is taken to avoid waste and print responsibly, the industry should become more sustainable.

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