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Making the Green team

Sep 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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Winners of AMERICAN PRINTER's first annual Environmental Excellence Awards ranged from 10-employee family businesses to sprawling operations with staffs of hundreds. But their reactions were almost identical. “We're thrilled,” said one printer, a comment many others echoed. Several reminded us that their companies have been green for decades or longer and welcomed the opportunity to share their strategies with fellow printers.

All agreed that sustainability is here to stay. “Being green isn't something you do in a one-year period,” says Pat Berger, vice president, Mercer Color (Coldwater, OH). “It's decades of doing the right thing every day.”

Teaming with Premier sponsors Heidelberg and Kodak, AMERICAN PRINTER, in conjunction with the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), has created the awards to recognize commercial printers who are leading the industry in environmentally conscious manufacturing. Gold-level sponsors include Adobe, Agfa, Air Motion Systems (AMS), HP, Mohawk Fine Papers and Presstek.

An independent panel of judges reviewed participants' production composition, personnel involvement, and manufacturing process and facility to determine the gold, silver and bronze winners. Participants also were invited to vie for “Best Environmentally Produced Product” honors. Competition was fierce, with only a few points separating some of the companies. “We looked for hard facts, for metrics that supported entrants' claims,” said one judge.

All contestants attaining a defined level of environmental achievement are included in a special listing of Environmentally Conscious Printers that starts on pg. 9.

The Environmental Excellence Awards will be presented during an evening ceremony at Graph Expo on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. We've profiled the winners in the following pages and look forward to congratulating them in person!

Most environmentally conscious printer



Get on the bus

Roger Telschow's life has been dedicated to personal, social and organizational change. In the late 1970s, he was working as a national organizer on environmental issues, touring the country in a converted school bus with a Multilith bolted to the floor. To put gas in the bus and food on the table, he started doing some printing for other non-profits, and, in 1977, he founded Ecoprint (Silver Springs, MD). “I insisted from the start that the print shop minimize its environmental footprint,” says Telschow.

All 240,000 lbs. of paper used annually contains some post consumer recycled content (PCW) — no virgin paper is used. A $25,000 EPA grant supported research that led to a line of printing inks that don't contain any potentially toxic metal pigments. All inks contain less than two percent VOCs and rely on vegetable-based oil.

Ecoprint doesn't have salespeople, but it does have an “outreach coordinator” who educates customers on green printing and mailing choices. These seminars also serve as an audit of a client's printing footprint. See


Getting customers & the community involved

Founded in 1930, Martella Printing (Salinas, CA) is a 10-employee company that works with many nonprofits. It is the only Certified Green printing company in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. Earning the Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program certification required meeting regulations spelled out in a 15- page document that covered pollution prevention, chemical safety, energy conservation and solid waste reduction. External education efforts are working. “Most of our customers have agreed to switch to our recycled paper and soy-based inks,” reports Tom Martella. “More than 90 percent now are using recycled paper, and 100 percent are using soy-based inks.” The company's commitment to recycling earned a 2006 CURBEE Award from BFI Waste Services. See


Green is standard operating procedure

“Green practices were part of our standard operating procedures long before it was popular,” says Dan Weisenbach of Weisenbach Recycled Products (Columbus, OH). “Since 1989, our customers received their jobs on recycled paper, printed with soy inks whether they asked for it or not.” Today, its house text and cover stocks are FSC certified with 100 percent PCW. Paperboard contains 100 percent recycled fiber. In 1990, Weisenbach printed and mailed its first national catalog of recycled promotional products. The 15-employee company considers itself a hybrid commercial and specialty printer. See



Two decades of green

Founded in 1976, Alonzo Printing (Hayward, CA) is a 55- employee union shop serving government, education, health care, high tech and publishing customers. Company president Jim Duffy says Alonzo works with New Leaf Paper to maintain inventories of 100-percent recycled and 100-percent post-consumer papers for its digital, sheetfed and open web presses. In 2007, 92 percent of the 1,953 tons of paper Alonzo purchased contained recycled waste and 42 percent was from post-consumer fiber. Also in 2007, Grays Harbor Paper named Alonzo Printing Co. (Hayward, CA) its No.1 Sustainability Partner. Alonzo also earned an Environmental Leadership Certificate from New Leaf Paper as well as FSC certification. See


A little greener in Pasadena

“Facilitating product design from day one with every potential client is the simplest way we've greened our products and services,” says George Kinney, vice president of marketing for Castle Press (Pasadena, CA). “In the estimating stage, our sales staff offers at least two cost saving alternatives for every quotation. Sometimes this includes shaving off a ¼ inch to fit on the next smaller press sheet size, or enlarging pieces to maximize every inch of printable space, or recommending a multipurpose substrate so multiple pieces can be printed on the same form.” See


Blanket policy

In 2007, Enviro Image Solutions (EIS), a Metropolitan subsidiary, won a PIA/GATF InterTech Technology Award for its UV blanket refurbishment program. “We have printed award-winning projects in 10-micron Kodak Staccato or 700-line screen using these refurbished blankets,” says Penny Kallas, marketing director. Last year, Metropolitan saved more than $175,000 in blanket costs and rejuvenated 1,750 blankets. Blankets that can't be refurbished are recycled for use in aluminum bar, rubber and fabric materials or other processes. George Kallas founded Metropolitan Fine Printers (Vancouver, BC, Canada) in 1977. In 2007, 45 percent of its stock was FSC certified. See



Bring on the VOC-eating bacteria

Serigraph (West Bend, WI) uses screen, offset and digital printing technology to produce everything from the graphics on a car's instrument panel to POP signage. The company's formal environmental policy describes its approach as “pollution prevention instead of detection.” Serigraph was a pioneer in the use of VOC-free UV inks for offset printing on plastic substrates, and, in 1997, installed a biofiltration system to control VOCs from its screen printing operations. This system uses bacteria that “eat” VOCs at 85 to 95 percent efficiency. See


Promoting low-impact manufacturing

With seven facilities in five states, EarthColor (Parsippany, NJ) has developed a disciplined green strategy. The company uses Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI) ( sustainability reporting framework to achieve what director of sustainability David Podmayersky calls “a triple-bottom-line approach.” “It gives us the structure, standards and methodology to monitor our financial, environmental sustainability and social responsibility performance,” he explains. “The level that we're taking it to is reengineering the process to create low-impact printing.” EarthColor is an EPA Green Power Partner — 100 percent of the operating energy for all of its facilities comes from renewable sources, such as wind, hydro and biomass. Bio-oxidation is employed to consume airborne pollutants. The printer buys 25,002,000 kilowatt hours (kWH) of renewable energy annually from wind farms across the nation. See


A progressive approach

The John Roberts Co. (Minneapolis) established an environmental policy in the late 1980s. “The ownership has always been very progressive,” explains Connie O'Keefe, environmental manager. “Formalizing what we were doing was a logical step.” In 1993, the company implemented an Environmental Management System. Early efforts to voluntarily seek environmental auditing, corrective action and public disclosure led to a partnership between the Printing Industry of Minnesota and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and eventually became the model for Minnesota's Green Star Program. The John Roberts Co. was one of the first to have achieved Minnesota Green Star status, in 1997, and has renewed this status regularly. The printer is an EPA Green Power Partner, Clean Air Minnesota participant and Minnesota Waste Wise member. See

Eco Tip

“We go out of our way to purchase cleaning agents that we know aren't harmful to the environment,” says Tom Martella. Two favorites are Holy Cow ( and Simple Green (

Ecoprint often run jobs with minimal color bars to facilitate a smaller sheet size. The printer regularly produces a full-bleed,16-page signature on a 23 × 35-inch sheet vs. a 25 × 38-inch one, saving 15 percent in trim waste.

Certificates of Merit

Most Environmentally Conscious Printer

Honor Roll


O'Neil Printing (Phoenix)


Inkworks Press (Berkeley)

Impress Communications (Chatsworth)

Anderson Lithograph (Commerce)

Alonzo Printing (Hayward)

Graphic Venue (El Segundo)

Main Graphics (Irvine)

Label Impressions (Orange)

The Castle Press (Pasadena)

Martella Printing (Salinas)

Dome Printing (Sacramento)


Vision Graphics Inc. (Loveland)


Geographics (Atlanta) |


Consolidated Printing Co. (Chicago)

Elk Grove Graphics (Elk Grove Village)

Gateway Packaging (Granite City)

The Garvey Group (Niles)

LKCS (Peru)

Lake County Press (Waukegan)


Foster Printing Service (Michigan City)


LaPlume (Lawrence)

Flagship Press (North Andover)

Shear Color Printing (Woburn)


Mosaic (Cheverly)

Ecoprint (Silver Springs)


Edwards Brothers (Ann Arbor)

Sheridan Books (Chelsea)


Big Ink (Eagan)

RR Donnelley Metro (Eden Prairie)

John Roberts (Minneapolis)

Applied Graphics (Plymouth)

Nahan Printing (St. Cloud)

North Carolina

Cary Printing (Morrisville)

New Jersey

Pictorial Offset (Carlstadt)

Sandy Alexander (Clifton)

The Inkwell (Kenilworth)

H&S Graphics (Lodi)

EarthColor (Parsippany)

New York

Prestone Printing (Long Island City)

Brown Printing Co. (New York City)


Mercer Color (Coldwater)

Weisenbach Specialty Printing (Columbus)

PXPOHIO (Reynoldsburg)


NPC Inc. (Claysburg)

ANRO (Devon)

Brilliant Graphics (Exton)

Piccari Press (Warminster)

Anstadt Printing (York)

The Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group (York)


Williamson Printing Corp. (Dallas)


Lane Press (Burlington)


Webcrafters (Madison)

Arandell Corp. (Menomee Falls)

Quad/Graphics (Sussex)

Serigraph (West Bend)

Suttle-Straus (Waunakee)

For more about our Environmental Excellence Award winners, see Want to share details of your green efforts? E-mail

Best environmentally produced product



Give green a chance

Inkworks Press (Berkeley, CA) has embraced peace and social justice issues since it was founded 34 years ago. “We feel that environmental issues cannot be effectively addressed apart from the larger political concerns,” says Bernard Marszalek, sales manager. “Our business model may be unique, but what a small shop like ours has accomplished can be replicated in any print shop.” The 22-employee union shop began using recycled paper in the 1980s and now stocks New Leaf Paper's complete line. Its house stocks are chlorine-free and exceed federal PCW standards.

Inkworks recently produced 2,600 copies of “Visions of Peace & Justice,” a 150-page full-color book featuring more than 400 reproductions of political posters from its archives. Inkworks' staff photographed all of the posters and designed the book. A KPG 5034 DI press was used for all of the color work, while a Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 cranked out the black-and-white pages. The entire book was printed on New Leaf Paper recycled papers. See

26 to 99 EMPLOYEES


Home of the eco audit

Cary Printing (Morissville, NC) has been serious about sustainability for more than three decades. The 60-employee company is triple certified (PEFC, FSC and SFI) and proudly notes it was the first U.S. printer to earn the PEFC designation. All jobs are quoted green unless the paper choice is unavailable as certified or a customer requests a “non-green” print. Every green job is “eco audited” to demonstrate the estimated environmental impact. The audit calculates the number of full grown trees saved, the amount of landfill waste eliminated, net greenhouse emissions and number of BTUs of energy saved.

When Cary Printing worked with Meredith College, the school saved green while being greener, too. The Colton Review features the work of faculty, students and alumni. The printer suggested resizing the publication to fit on a 29-inch press. Making maximum use of the sheet size reduced the amount of paper required as well as waste. Using SFI-certified paper — NewPage Anthem Matte — meant Meredith College saved 1,650 lbs. of coated paper, seven full-grown trees and 5,205 lbs. of wood. See



Setting a positive example

Sandy Alexander's (Clifton, NJ) environmental efforts began formally in 2002 with ISO 14001 registration and the subsequent environmental management system that targets waste reduction and pollution prevention. In 2005, Sandy Alexander obtained FSC chain of-custody certification. In 2006, Sandy Alexander reportedly became the first printer in the United States to purchase 100- percent wind-generated electricity to power its manufacturing and office operations. During the same year, the printer joined EPA's Climate Leaders Program and has announced an 11-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels (tied to sales volume) by the year 2012.

Estée Lauder's “Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2007” was printed on Mohawk Options 100% PC, an uncoated paper made with process-chlorine-free 100-percent post consumer waste fiber. The report was printed with the use of Green-e certified renewable wind energy resulting in nearly zero greenhouse gas emissions. See

Encouraging customer collaboration

Advising customers on being greener is part of EarthColor's (Parsippany, NJ) comprehensive environmental approach. “We've worked very closely with our clients to educate them on how to produce green printed communications that have a positive environmental impact and strong socially responsibility message,” says David Podmayersky, sustainability director. “Working with American Express on its 2007/2008 Corporate Citizenship Report was a great collaboration at all levels, with the communications and marketing departments, and so on.”

A small quantity of reports (the option to view and download this report was also available online) was printed on FSC-certified Mohawk Options paper, containing 100% post-consumer waste fiber and manufactured entirely with Green-e certified renewable, non-polluting, wind-generated electricity. The paper is process chlorine-free, with certification to FSC and Green Seal standards.

EarthColor also won a Silver Environmental Excellence Award. See

Eco Tips

  • In 2008, Alonzo asked vendors for suggestions on how it could be a more sustainable operation. Ideas included consolidating ink purchases, paper and material redistribution, and reducing its house sheet from 19 × 25 inches to 18.5 × 23.5 inches. The new sheet contains 10 percent post-consumer fiber and will reduce paper usage and spoilage by eight percent.

  • Castle Press shares its recycling knowledge with customers. A saddlestitched booklet can be tossed, as is, into recycling, where staples are recovered easily with a magnet. But petroleum-based adhesives on a perfect-bound book are more challenging and costly to remove during the de-inking process.

  • Metropolitan uses Cascades' North River tissue paper products throughout its office and plant. All products are certified processed chlorine-free and made of 100-percent recycled fibers containing almost all post-consumer material.

  • EarthColor operates carbon neutral via the CarbonFree program (

  • Suttle-Straus' FloClear ( system extends fountain solution useful life from one week to three months while saving water.

  • Pictorial Offset participates in The Conservation Fund's Go Zero Program (

  • The John Roberts Co. is a Minnesota Great Printer (

Send your Eco Tips to Katherine O'Brien, Editorial Director at

Inkworks uses PedalExpress (PedEx) to deliver packages within a five-mile radius. The bicycle delivery service uses specially designed cargo carriers, and can carry up to 600 lbs. Blue Sky, a local biodiesel-fueled shipping fleet, handles trucking requirements.

Certificates of Merit

Best Environmentally Produced Product