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What Does Sustainability Look Like in Wide-Format Printing?

December 16, 2019

The push to become more environmentally-friendly has sparked innovation across industries, even carving out entirely new categories in green technology, sustainable energy, waste management and more.  

Just as environmentalism has fostered eco-friendly practices across industries, sustainability continues to drive demand and customer loyalty in business. More than two-thirds of consumers consider environmental impact when making a purchase – a value that has transferred over to the B2B realm as well.

By tapping into the green economy, business owners can not only foster stronger demand for their products and services, they can also capitalize on additional revenue opportunities. This is particularly true in the wide-format printing industry, where 45 percent of print service providers reported a growing number of customer requests for graphics and signage made with green printing practices.

From minimizing waste in the design process to leveraging eco-friendly materials and technology, wide-format printing businesses stand to gain by employing sustainable practices.

Here are three ways wide-format printing businesses can promote sustainability:

  1. Use Eco-Friendly Inks

Print solutions providers are increasingly sourcing sustainable materials and supplying greener alternatives to answer growing customer demand. This, in turn, has also prompted ink suppliers to move toward offering more environmentally-friendly options.

Many traditional inks use harmful solvents, which exude a cocktail of chemical emissions when used. However, UV-curable inks, as well as latex and water-based solutions, produce far fewer emissions and are becoming more commonplace in the industry.

Similarly, vegetable-based, VOC-free and other eco-friendly inks are designed specifically to break down easily during the recycling process. These inks can be particularly useful when printing signage on plastic, cardboard and paper-based substrates, which businesses are more likely to recycle at the end of use.  

  • Leverage Sustainable Substrates

The substrates and applications involved in wide-format printing projects also play an integral role in sustainability. Some of the industry’s go-to plastic substrates are high in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – a non-biodegradable material. Fortunately, many print solutions providers are migrating toward PVC-free vinyl, banners and other substrates.

Recyclable substrates made from 100-percent natural materials are also becoming more popular. Cardboard, cardstock and other paper-based products have long been popular options for point-of-purchase (POP) collateral, trade show displays and other wide-format graphics and signage.

Meanwhile, print suppliers have also created many new branded options for recyclable substrates, from EnviroBoard to Falconboard™. Some suppliers, such as Hewlett Packard, even provide a shipping label so business owners can easily return biodegradable substrates to the HP facility to be recycled.

  • Reduce Waste with Greener Techniques and Technology

It’s not just the inks and substrates used in the finished product that are becoming more eco-friendly. Many wide-format printing businesses have also been working to optimize their design and printing processes to reduce waste and lower their carbon footprint.

This comes largely as a result of innovations in green printing technology, such as UV flatbed printers. Not only do these printers leverage low-impact UV-based inks, they also print directly to rigid and flexible substrates, cutting down on the materials used and discarded in the printing process. Allowing studio owners to load, print and collect media simultaneously, efficient and eco-friendly printers also have a faster turnaround time for the end product, which saves energy.

Greener practices, processes and technology in wide-format printing continue to drive industry demand, while creating additional revenue opportunities for print solutions providers.

To learn more about joining a wide-format printing franchise committed to sustainability, contact us today!

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