VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 4 CATEGORY: Business & Economics POSTED ON: 8/27/2010
With the growing trends toward sustainable or eco-friendly products from major national customers, print-service-providers have been faced with a difficult challenge: unearthing the truth to many of the claims of "biodegradable", "recyclable", and "eco-friendly" media products.
Wide-Format Sustainability—Media It’s Not Easy Being GREEN Making sense of eco-friendly media products By Denise M. Gustavson With the growing trends toward sustainable or eco-friendly products from major national customers, print-service-providers have been faced with a difficult challenge: unearthing the truth to many of the claims of “biodegradable”, “recyclable”, and “eco-friendly” media products. Staying in business today is not easy and “going green” can be even harder. Is it worth the time and investment? Two sustainable experts weigh in on some of the most pressing sustainability questions fac- ing the wide- and grand-format industry. Recyclable? Biodegradable? What’s the difference? Is one more important? Which should you look for? Mike Horsten, CEO, Zemt Green & Sustainable Consultants: The question is not what is better but what is the final use of the materials. Most products in the world are recyclable but at what cost and is it economically feasible. The recycling could cost more to the environment (energy consumption and CO2 emissions), than the benefit of having it recycled. On the other hand if it’s biodegradable, you are making a great excuse to still use landfills and get rid of the waste easily. Remember some products are biodegradable, but it takes hundreds of years and they can produce all kind of gasses or leak heavy metals into the soil. Some are even contra productive in the reduction of CO2 emissions. I would always take a close look at the possibilities of the recycling option as long as it really ben- efits the general picture. In our industry there are very few biodegradable products—think of PVC (Bysonil) and all the hard core products (Forex/Gatorboard) used in flatbed printing. Most of these can be reused in the production of new products or as insulation for houses, so there is a recycle option. Make sure when in doubt that you look at the composition of the original material, check how it’s made and ask your vendor. If there is any chance of recycling then go for that option, it’s always better then landfills. Just a note: Recycled paper requires 64 percent less energy than making paper from virgin wood pulp, so that is an advantage to count in. Marcia Y. Kinter, vice president - Government & Business Information, Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA): There is a huge difference between biodegradable and recyclable. To make a recy- clable claim, the product must be diverted from the solid waste stream. And, most importantly, the product must be
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