The Greening of Publishing Today
Producers of all goods share a responsibility to minimize environmental damage. And while the pulp, printing and publishing industries have been long-time menaces to the environment, industry associations, along with governmental protection agencies, are adapting enviro-friendly practices.
Years ahead of even U.S.-launched awareness, The Canadian Magazine Publishers Association advocated recycling within the industry. When the group first published a report more than ten years ago about environmental concerns facing print publishers, an active approach was embraced to remedy several problems, ranging from how to properly dispose of and lessen chemical use within the printing process, to how to modernize paper-making and lessen toxic by-products. To monitor progress within the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued several studies about printing and publishing.
The EPA defines the industry as one in which the final goal is to create end products in print, such as newspapers, magazines, books and catalogs. The EPA also considers platemaking, bookbinding and associated services suspect under the definition. According to EPA reports, "Printing and publishing is the largest conglomeration of small business in the domestic manufacturing sector." Because the industry has a history of using materials that affect air, water and land, the EPA is standardizing environmentally sound practices.
"Certain chemicals involved in printing volatilize, which contributes to air emissions from the facility and smog formation," reports the EPA. "Other chemicals may be discharged to drains and impact fresh water or marine ecosystems; and solid wastes contribute to the existing local and regional disposal problems."
The EPA proposes the best way to remedy land, water and air pollution is to prevent it. As a result, the industry has introduced digital printing alternatives, which output far less toxins compared to film processing. Still, many common production methods cause environmental damage. To combat these ongoing concerns, technology companies, such as Presstek, AGFA and Heidelberg USA, provide printing systems that reduce dangerous by-products using waterless technologies.