Many people have an honest concern about the health and well-being of the planet. Natural resources are constantly being stripped from the ground and repurposed for human consumption. If they’re not handled in a sustainable and responsible manner, the resources become depleted without replacement. That’s a danger to the future. For those who are concerned, the printing industry is often a target of their scorn. However, the printing industry has been making serious strides towards environmentally-friendly practices.
Ink is essentially a kind of paint; as such, it is made of a base, a binding agent, and a pigment. The base of many paints is oil. That’s also the base of many inks. However, 21st century inks are often made from vegetable oils instead of petroleum. When it is made from sustainable vegetable oil, it is environmentally-friendly, biodegradable, and sustainable. Since it is biodegradable, it is easy to compost or recycle printed pages. Since it is sustainable, companies are not stripping natural resources faster than they can be replaced.
The environmentally-friendly recycled paper makes up a significant portion of the paper being used in the 21st century. Paper can be recycled in two different ways. It can be pre-consumer recycled or post-consumer recycled. Pre-consumer recycled paper is paper that comes from some other kind of factory. For example, a paper company might cut all their paper into the standard sizes which leaves behind scraps of paper. In the past, they might have disposed of the scraps; now, they might recycle them or sell them to a recycler. This is pre-consumer paper. Post-consumer paper is paper that has been sold and used by a consumer; it’s then been tossed in a recycling bin and sorted by a recycling facility.
Both types of environmentally-friendly paper are very useful for increasing the sustainability of the printing industry. Each piece of paper must come from a tree that has been felled; if the paper can be reused, fewer trees need to be felled.
Perhaps even more than many industries, the impact of the printing industry is felt very directly. A paper company must fell trees to make paper. That also means they can simply offset their use. They can offset their use by replacing the trees they have cut down. They can also purchase offsets. For example, a company might fell 1000 trees, but they will sponsor 1000 trees elsewhere.
Sustainable printing companies are doing more and more business with companies that offset their logging.