Sustainable Printing at BU

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BU’s Marketing and Communications’ Creative Services department has made a big step towards reducing the University’s carbon footprint thanks to Print Buyer Ryan Agate.  Since he was hired, the department has adopted more sustainable printing practices and hopes to make an impact University-wide. 

The biggest way that Creative Services is helping the environment is by ensuring that their projects are printed according to the standards of the Forest Stewarship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI).  To ensure minimal environmental impact, both organizations monitor “every step from packaging to delivery,” says Agate.  This includes using only certified trees for paper production, using non-toxic ink, and making sure the printing process is environmentally friendly. 

Everything that Creative Services produces is printed on paper with post-consumer waste content of at least 10% or is FSC certified.  Using paper made from recycled materials has significant environmental benefits.  “It causes less trees to be cut down as a whole,” Agate says.  Cutting down fewer trees means less destruction of animal habitats.  In much of the paper is produced with no chlorine or bleach, which cuts down on river pollutions.  Since many of the paper companies and printers use alternative energy sources, such as wind energy, there is also a reduction in the amount of fossil fuels used.

When Agate was hired in 2007, this was not industry standard and many were wary that using recycled paper would result in an increase in cost but a decrease in quality.  According to Agate, as more and more people adopt the practice prices have gone down but quality has gone up. “New sheets come out, the quality is actually better and a lot of times you couldn’t tell the difference between a recycled sheet and a virgin sheet,” he says, adding that “As more and more people start using recycled stuff, the more prices will go down”.

One of the biggest initiatives undertaken by Creative Services’ Production Director, Charles Alfier, was to begin to print all stationery for the University on 100% post-consumer waste paper.  The stationery is also printed at a local print shop therefore reusing the gas used to deliver it.  Creative Services tried to encourage departments to use sustainable techniques whenever they are approached for a project. “You can’t mandate anyone to do it,” says Agates, however he finds that more and more groups are embracing it.  The campus maps produced by Admissions, for example, were previously produced on 10% post-consumer waste paper, but this year they switched to 30%.

Any departments interested in learning more can contact Creative Services and they will help them to incorporate sustainable printing into their projects.  “I think it’s a good thing for people to think responsibly in anything they do” says Agate, “we just want people to know we are printing responsibly”.

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