A common misconception about print and paper products it that they are not environmentally friendly. This stems from the superficial idea that because paper is made from trees it is bad for the environment, however anyone with an understanding of modern paper production knows that the opposite is often true.
At the beginning of the 20th century woodland covered just 5% of the UK. Thanks to an increased focus on the importance of trees and the advent of sustainably managed forests tree coverage has now risen to nearly 12%. The Woodland Trust is restoring ancient woodlands in the UK to encourage native species to thrive again. The Forestry Commission plants millions of trees every year to create new woodland and replace the 4 million tonnes of wood it harvests every year. This is a cornerstone of sustainability, using resources in a way that does not compromise the needs of future generations.
In the U.S. the American Forest & Paper Association promotes sustainable wood and paper manufacturing through public policy and marketplace advocacy. Its goals include achieving 70 percent of paper recovery for recycling by 2020, increasing its members energy efficiency, reducing members greenhouse gas emissions and reducing water use in paper mills.
The Forest Stewardship Council runs a global certification system covering forest management and chain of custody. It allows consumers to identify, purchase and use wood, paper and other forest products from well managed forests and/or recycled materials. Using paper from sustainably managed forests therefore does not damage the environment, it encourages development of natural resources which are fundamental to a sustainable future.
It is not only paper that has environmental benefits in the print industry. Biodegradeable inks are now available and recycling schemes have always been available for consumables such as toner cartridges. However as with most products, consumer behaviour has the potential to have the greatest impact on the environment. Consumers have to actively seek out the eco friendly options that are available and then follow up by recycling the paper and consumables.
The other great myth of the digital age is that electronic devices are inherently more environmentally friendly, because they are not made from trees. Global e-waste is projected to hit 50 million tonnes in 2018. Nearly 50% of the waste electronics from the UK are shipped to Ghana, other destinations include China, India and Nigeria. Once they arrive at these places they are not completely recycled. Some of the rare components may be retrieved but the remaining plastics are disposed of either by burning or in landfill. Taking the full life cycle into account, printed paper looks far more sustainable and eco friendly than digital devices.
Perhaps the best way to achieve sustainability with our computers and digital devices is via web to print. In this way the web browser facilitates use of an eco friendly product that is produced in a sustainable way and can be recycled over and over.
An important sustainable feature of web to print is the way it facilitates short run variable print. This minimises wastage because it reduces the need for inventory. Products can be edited whenever required in the web browser and digital printing is well suited to short run, personalised products.
At Red Tie we use a data infrastructure that is ISO certified for energy management. This ensures performance and compliance in energy efficiency and environmental compliance so not only do we offer the most flexible web to print platform, we do it in a way that is sustainable and eco friendly, just like FSC certified paper. By using Red Tie you get to use a great platform whilst doing your bit for the environment.