BEST PRACTICE – Five ways to make your printing more sustainable

By jay

There’s more to think about with printing than just saving paper. A look under the hood of Soar Print’s sustainability approach tells you what to look for. 

Auckland’s Soar printing is a special business. Founded by World War One veteran Lt. Colonel Fred Soar in 1920, it is still run by family members today. 

Maybe that long lineage helps Soar think long-term on sustainability. In addition Soar has made supreme efforts to keep its processes at the cutting edge.

Jenny Carter is head of sustainability at Soar. “Being a family business, we’ve always had this philosophy of leaving things in better shape for the next generation. My grandfather would be proud if he could see Soar Print today – a carbon-neutral, award-winning printing business employing 70 staff.”

Here’s what you should consider when choosing your printer, and what Soar’s experience can tell you:

1.    Paper

Choose recycled paper, sourced from certified FSC or PEFC sources.  

Soar Printing was the first printer in New Zealand certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council. This means its paper is sourced from suppliers meeting a commitment to responsible forest management. Soar is also certified to print paper endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. This is another responsible, traceable forest management programme. Look out for the symbols of either organisations.

2.  Waste

Your printer should reduce paper waste, as well as other material waste. 

It should be making sizing, run-size and paper recommendations that reduce off cuts. It should be recycling all the waste paper it can. Soar recycles 99% of paper waste, and has cut its waste to landfill by 40% since 2009.

3.  Ink

Solvent based inks present an environmental hazard in use and disposal. 

These are best avoided where possible in favour of vegetable-based ink and aqueous coatings that don’t hinder recycling.

Soar uses vegetable-based inks for all offset jobs.

4.  Energy

Ask your printer what it is doing to reduce, mitigate and offset its greenhouse gas emissions. 

In 2009, Soar became the first New Zealand printer to become carboNZero accredited. It has measured the greenhouse gas emissions of its operations, set targets to reduce them, and purchased accredited carbon offsets to mitigate them. This has meant changes in company vehicles and energy use.  

Since joining carboNZero Soar has reduced its power consumption by 6% and reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 35%. Soar also offers carboNZero accredited products. This means your publication can sport the carboNZero logo. It’s a way of demonstrating you have taken a responsible approach to paper selection.

5.  Bringing it all together

It’s worth listening out for the principles driving the businesses you buy from. Managing Director Fred Soar introduced lean manufacturing principles to Soar in 2010. This reduces waste of all types – waste of time, energy, materials, resources and space. The company also has ISO 14001 certification. This provides internationally-recognised third party accreditation for its entire environmental management system.  

It only takes a few minutes to check these things. And it means every communication you send can send another message – that you care about a sustainable future. 

Soar Printing received a Judges’ Commendation for the Mega efficiency Impact Award at the 2013 NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards.

Soar prints the Finalist Profiles booklet for the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards. The booklet, which is given to all attendees at the Awards ceremony, is printed on recycled paper (FSC certified), using vegetable-based ink.