Recycling is Good: Reducing Waste is Even Better

By now, recycling is a given for nearly all responsible printers. Additional and even more significant gains in sustainability can be achieved by becoming more efficient and reducing waste from the start.

I recently visited a very large packaging printer, and like many larger operations, they used a good deal of wall space for announcements, motivational posters and performance charts. One chart that really caught my eye was the paper recycling chart. It showed a nice upward trend, with more paper recycled each month of the year, and more paper recycled this year than last.

They seemed proud of the tons of paper that they were able to recycle each year, saving trees and reducing landfill use. But I got a different message from the chart: If they are recycling more paper month after month, year after year, aren’t they also wasting more paper as well?

When waste is created through excessive makereadies, returned jobs, or lengthy fingerprinting runs, more than paper is lost, and the losses can’t all be gotten back through recycling. Energy consumed in the manufacture of the paper, pickup and delivery to and from the printing plant and used again during the recycling process is lost forever. Wouldn’t more significant gains be made by not wasting the paper in the first place?

Excessive Makeready

Print was seen for many years as a skilled craft immune from modern manufacturing trends, and the result was often excessive makeready waste.This attitude has begun to shift, but too many printers still lack the tools needed to institute real process control, in the pressroom and communicate real-time press results with the prepress department for  true efficiency.

Returned Jobs

Buyers and brand owners with specific requirements expect their printers to hit the mark, and jobs that fail to meet color quality guidelines may be rejected

“Fingerprint” runs

Printers with a commitment to quality conduct periodic “fingerprint” or characterization runs to quantify press performance and create appropriate plate curves. Unfortunately, characterization runs are hugely wasteful, easily consuming 10,000 sheets of paper at a time. And the success rate for characterizations is woefully low, as press performance shifts over time, making, making the hard-won plate curves obsolete as soon as they are put into place.

Instituting robust process control on press, real time reporting to prepress and clear definition and verification of print quality standards can all contribute to a culture of true sustainability. PressSIGN helps printers to go beyond recycling by creating efficiency and reducing waste at the start.

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