It is fair to say that, compared to major industrial manufacturing industries, the production of greeting cards is not the most ecologically damaging. Consider the energy, materials and pollutants required to construct, use and dispose of a greeting card, compared to, let’s say, a fridge? They are simply not on the same scale.
However, as climate change and the environment are high on the agenda of all industries, consumers are increasingly demanding more environmentally products, the UK card industry has a responsibility to ensure sure that greeting cards are made as eco-friendly as humanly possible.
To this end the GCA has developed this green information resource to help and encourage publishers along the environmental road.
Reducing Your Company’s Environmental Impact
There are two main areas where publishers can make a real difference
- Sourcing – the origin of our paper, envelopes, print and production processes
- In house – ensuring that we have good housekeeping and best practice regimes in our businesses. The good news is that many of the measures needed will save you money!
ISO14001, Board, Printers, Envelopes, Cello bags, Environmental Claims
What is ISO 14001?
ISO 14001 is the international standard certification for improving environmental performance and procedures. It shows that a company understands the environmental consequences of its activities and has put in place a series of measures to reduce its impact on the environment. The important thing about this certification is its emphasis on continuous improvement.
While many larger publishers already have this accreditation, for small publishers we suggest that a good start would be checking that their suppliers have this accreditation. http://www.iso-14001.org.uk/
Until recently the dearth of consistently good quality recycled paper and board products meant that it was hard to be an environmentally friendly publisher. However, in recent years more board and envelope merchants have been adding quality recycled materials to their portfolios and the price of recycled board and paper has become more comparable to non-recycled.
Mills are also becoming more environmentally-conscious in their production processes, developing boards that have been certified under the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Classification). Both of these schemes promote sustainable forest management and provide reassurance that paper products originate from well-managed forests or recycled sources. What is so important in both these certifications is that there is a chain of custody right back to the source of the pulp.
Chain of Custody
Who needs Chain of Custody?
Every company which has been in possession of that particular wood/pulp/paper product, including the forest owner, the paper mill, the paper merchant and the printer. A publisher doesn’t necessarily need to be FSC certified in order to publish FSC certified cards as long as it is left to their (FSC certified) print company to buy the FSC paper direct from the (FSC certified) paper merchant. For further information about FSC Chain of Custody (CoC) click here.
While FSC and PEFC accredited boards help towards preserving the world’s forests, recycled paper content is considered the way forward. The higher the percentage of post-consumer waste against virgin pulp and mill broke (virgin paper cut-offs normally added to ordinary paper) or FSC pulp, the greater the ecological benefits – largely as it reduces the amount of energy to produce the board and the amount of paper going into landfill. Using recycled paper from the UK also cuts down on the carbon footprint.
Further information on environmentally friendly boards and paper:
Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)
Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC)
Lovely As A Tree
Takes you through the process of choosing a recycled or more sustainably sourced paper, and shows you what to look for when choosing a greener printer.
The UK printing industry has long been governed on minimising any damage to the environment. However, there are still many things to look out for when looking for an environmentally aware specialist card printer.
- Low-or-no-alcohol printing techniques – 10% of the UK's VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) emissions are believed to emanate from the printing industry! As ink dries, industrial alcohol (IPA), which is used as a damping solution, evaporates at room temperature, releasing VOCs. VOCs are colourless, odourless gases that are harmful to human health and contribute to global warming and the production of the ozone.
- That the printer uses vegetable-based inks – the environmental benefits of using these are: that they are a renewable resource, conserve petroleum supplies, reduce VOCs. An added benefit is that the press can be cleaned using a water-based cleaner as opposed to one high in solvents. At the end of the ‘life’ of the product vegetable inks can be easier to ‘de-ink’ during the recycling process and therefore easier to recycle.
- Offers recycled or FSC accredited board.
- Provides a high gloss aqueous alternative to UV varnishing – it requires far less energy than conventional UV varnishes.
- That the printing company does it’s bit for the environment on recycling - paper, cardboard, ink, chemicals, plates, blankets, rags are collected for recycling.
- either has or is working towards ISO14001 accreditation.
- The icing on the cake! The printer is powered by green energy.
Besides board and envelopes, packaging is another element that is coming under the environmental spotlight. Cello wrap made from polypropylene is not recyclable. However, Biophan, made from corn starch, is good substitute for polypropylene cello. It is certified as compostable by the Composting Association and meets the EU standard EN 13432, which means that in industrial composting conditions, the bags break down in just 45 days.
Going By The Label
Unclear or misleading eco-credentials can cause confusion on cards. The GCA has drawn up ‘Green Claims Guidance’ in partnership with Defra, which can be down loaded from the members area of this site. But here are some quick pointers on how to label correctly.
Claims relating to sustainable forest management should:
- Refer to a specific forest certification scheme if claiming that the board comes from a sustainable forest scheme – eg, FSC, PEFC.
- Comply with the rules set by the particular certification scheme regarding use of the logo, the wording of the claim and the ‘chain of custody’ requirements. This may require contacting the certification scheme and obtaining authorisation for use of trademarked logos such as FSC.
- State the percentage (%) content from this source (if the scheme allows).
Environmental Claims To Avoid
The following claims and terms should be avoided:
- ‘Sustainably managed forests’ - There is currently no definitive definition of a ‘sustainably managed forest’. It is therefore recommended that the use of the term ‘sustainable’ is avoided.
- ‘Carefully managed forests’ - This claim should be avoided, because the term ‘carefully managed’ has no common definition in relation to forest management and hence is practically meaningless.
- ‘Renewable’ - This is a tricky claim, since timber (and hence paper) products can be defined as a renewable resource when compared with alternatives such as oil-based plastics. However, given that: a) there is no widely accepted national or international definition of renewable forestry; and b) the majority of greeting cards are made from paper made from wood pulp; a claim using the term ‘renewable’ should be avoided, being potentially unclear and implying that the product is exceptional.
- ‘One tree planted for every tree cut down’ - This claim should not be used. This is because the vast majority of paper and card used in greeting cards and envelopes will come from forests that are replanted on a commercial basis. To make such a claim therefore falsely implies that the paper or card used is exceptional and carries significant environmental benefits.
- ‘Made from softwood pulp’ or ‘Contains no tropical hardwood’ - The vast majority of paper and card used in greeting cards will be made from softwood pulp.
2. GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
Saving energy, water, reducing waste, recycling
So you’ve found all your green suppliers – what can you do to make the running of your business greener?
Tips for saving energy
- Measure how much energy you’re using. Unless you know what you’re paying, you won’t know what impact the changes make. Keep track of your bills, and how they change when you introduce these energy-saving tips.
- Switch off equipment, lights and heating when you’re not using them.
- On average offices waste £6,000 each year by leaving equipment on over weekends and bank holidays. Just getting your employees to turn off their monitors when they go home can make a big difference.
- Speak to your colleagues about saving energy.
- Lead by example, but it’s also important to make it a team effort. Ask employees where they think energy is being wasted, and encourage them to think about how they can all use less.
- Avoid wasting water as this can also lead to significant extra costs for your business.
Reduce raw material consumption in the office.
- The best way to reduce office waste is not to produce it in the first place! Before making a purchase, ask yourself if you need to buy the goods or materials, or if you are buying more than you need.
- Minimise the amount of waste you do produce, for example by using items as many times as possible and recycling what you can after items have been reused. This will enable you to make significant savings on waste disposal costs and reduce your business' impact on the environment.
- Ask suppliers to use less heavily packaged products or ask them to take away excess packaging when they deliver.
- Reuse or recycle paper, printer toner and ink cartridges you would normally throw away.
- Change your printers' settings to print in double-sided format.
- Cancel junk mail and unwanted publications - contact the sender directly and ask them to remove you from their mailing list.
- Use emails where possible to reduce printing and faxing - encourage staff not to print out documents and emails unless absolutely necessary.
- Reuse paper that has only been printed on one side for draft or scrap message pads.
- Reuse envelopes if possible, for example to send internal mail.
- Donate surplus card or coloured paper to your local school or nursery.
The good news is that best green practice also means that you make cost savings to your company. One GCA member company has reported making savings of £25k in electricity and gas costs in one year.
There is so much information on how to green up your business – but which are the best websites? Here are a few suggestions:
National Industrial Symbiosis Programme http://www.nisp.org.uk/
NISP may be able to help you use your waste materials as an input material for another industry or supply you with someone else's waste to use in your manufacturing processes. For more information and case studies see their website or email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 0121 433 2650.
- WRAP - http://www.wrap.org.uk/
The Waste and Resources Action Programme. WRAP offers a business development service, including professional advice on recycling businesses and a 'marriage service' to match businesses to potential funders. See their website for more information or call WRAP on 0808 100 2040.
- Businesslink http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/
There are a number of excellent green guides which give lots of help and advice on practical measures that can be taken.
- The Carbon Trust http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/
The Carbon Trust helps business and the public sector cut carbon emissions, and supports the development of low carbon technologies.
- NetRegs http://www.netregs.gov.uk/netregs/
NetRegs provides free environmental guidance for small businesses in the UK, helping you to understand what you need to do to comply with environmental legislation and protect the environment.
- London Remade http://www.londonremade.com
Offers wide ranging advice on reusing and recycling products. It also has a sustainable/recycled product directory. To register your sustainable product click here