By Heidi Tolliver-Nigro
Although all aspects of the printing industry are greener than they once were, there is a lot of discussion these days about digital printing.
1. Digital presses do not use offset plates or chemicals the way offset presses do.
This means they don’t require film, spray powders, cleaning solvents, or have the same solid waste disposal requirements as 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, most presses 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 the 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 very limited number of substrates, this is no longer the case. The range of stocks for digital presses, including recycled and SFI-/FSC-certified papers, has exploded.
5. The applications driven by digital printing are inherently green(er).
While digital printing offers some environmentally appealing production benefits, the process really shines in its applications.
By making smarter use of your database, for example (say mailing only to the top 10 percent of your customer base), you reduce the amount of printed material you use. If you combine this with smart use of print personalization, including only relevant material, you reduce your environmental footprint even further.
Double Your Green
Not only this, but you can double your “green” by earning even greater revenues at the same time. Take, for example, the University of Toronto. It slashed its mailing database from 70,000 to around 35,000, and then sent out personalized communications to the remaining names.
Despite decreasing its mail volume, the university actually increased its donor base by 80 percent (through increased relevance of the contacts) and its revenue jumped by 30 percent. Meanwhile, the unintended greening consequence was that it placed 50 percent less print volume into the waste stream.
So whether you’re looking to production or applications benefits to green your print marketing, digital printing is a good place to start.
Heidi Tolliver-Nigro has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor and author for nearly 20 years. Her industry commentary can regularly be found on What They Think’s Digital Nirvana and in top industry publications.
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