WHAT WE DO AT ONLINEPRINTERS TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
The paperless office as well as living and working without paper have become a modern myth. We still need printed material in the digital age. As an online printer we make sure that the manufacturing process of printed advertising material is as environmentally friendly and resource-saving as possible.
Our employees are at the heart of our sustainability efforts and they guarantee the high quality of our print and postpress operations, because technology is nothing without someone to operate it. For this reason, we rely on qualified personnel in production, cutting-edge production technology and quality assurance as well as continuous staff training to raise awareness for sustainability with all parties involved.
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY BUSINESS MODEL
As an online printer that cares about the environment and aims to offer competitive prices and high product quality, we have designed every part of the production chain with saving resources in mind. Our entire business model from ordering to shipping is optimised in terms of resource efficiency to make it particularly sustainable. Read on to learn how exactly this works and what we do to protect the environment:
CARBON NEUTRAL ONLINE SHOP
An online shop requires a high-performance data processing centre. Customers from 30 European countries can upload their artwork to our web shops 24/7. This requires loads of servers, the latest networking technology and air conditioning systems to prevent the machines from overheating. Such a computer centre consumes a lot of energy and produces carbon emissions.
With the mindset of an eco-friendly print shop, we are pioneers in this field: Thanks to WEBSALE, our shop system partner, and the climate protection specialists from ClimatePartner, the operation of all web shops of Onlineprinters GmbH is carbon neutral. This means that all carbon emissions produced by operating the shop computer centre and the office buildings are offset by a certified climate protection project.
Since 2018, WEBSALE has supported sustainable energy generation in Virunga, the oldest national park in Africa in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Previously, the local population had to rely on charcoal to cover their energy demand. Today, they are supplied with sustainable electricity from a small hydropower station. This improves the medical and financial situation of the communities and protects the forests that are home to some of the last mountain gorillas.
As a print company, paper is our most important raw material. Each year, we process several thousand tonnes of paper to produce more than a million printed products for our customers. Since paper is mainly made of wood fibre, it is based on a renewable raw material. However, forests also provide habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans. It is therefore essential to preserve them for future generations. For this reason, we preferentially purchase certified paper from sustainable forestry. To achieve this, we work with different organisations:
The "Forest Stewardship Council" (FSC®) is an international non-profit organisation which launched the first system to certify sustainable forestry operations and continues to develop it. The FSC® label marks different wood or paper-based products derived from a responsibly managed FSC® certified forest. The FSC® system for the certification of forestry was created to safeguard the sustainable use of forests, which includes the preservation and improvement of the economic, ecological and social functions of forestry operations. For this purpose, FSC® has developed a general transnational standard which has to be fleshed out at the national level by indicators for country-specific forest protection.
170 gsm "FSC® mix" art paper is an example of FSC® certified paper used at Onlineprinters. It is made from a combination of materials from FSC® certified fibres and "FSC® Controlled Wood". Customers like the sturdy paper to print their brochures, flyers and posters.
The "Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes™" (PEFC™) is an international forest certification system. It is the world's largest independent organisation for the safeguarding and continuous improvement of sustainable forestry which assures ecological and economic standards.
We at Onlineprinters offer 90 gsm art print paper in a matte or glossy finish which is "PEFC™ 100 percent" certified. This means that the paper contains 100 percent "PEFC™ certified" material from sustainably managed forests. 90 gsm art paper has a smooth surface and excellent image rendition and is one of our most popular paper types on account of its attractive price-performance ratio.
THE BLUE ANGEL
"The Blue Angel" is the first and oldest eco-label worldwide for products and services. Established in 1978, it is awarded to products and services that are particularly eco-friendly from a holistic point of view. The Blue Angel focuses on examining the impact of a product on the climate, water and resources as well as health and the environment. The organisation is a member of the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) which is a union of national ecolabelling organisations from all over the world that promote environmental protection also at an international level.
Our recycled paper is certified to "The Blue Angel" and is made from 100 % post-consumer recycled fibre. No trees have to be cut to produce this paper, and compared to virgin fibre paper, up to 70 percent less water and 60 percent less energy are required. Thanks to state-of-the-art technology, we are able to produce bright white papers also with ecological benefits. Recycled paper from Onlineprinters has a 1.3 fold volume, superior feel and optimal opacity. A classy business card made of 300 gsm recycled cardstock, for example, immediately makes the statement that its owner cares about the environment.
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRODUCTION
In addition to web shop operation and the paper types, we also need resources to produce the printed material for our customers. To achieve a high level of sustainability here as well, we use cutting-edge production, measurement and control technology. This efficient approach to production enables us to both save resources and offer high-quality products at affordable prices. We believe that a print company can reconcile environmental protection, top quality and fair prices – because everything that goes easy on the planet will go easy on our customers' wallets, too.
PREPRESS – PLATESETTING
We make our products using so-called combined print runs, also known as gang run printing. We receive so many orders at Onlineprinters each day that we are able to collect different jobs of the same paper stock and weight to put them together on one sheet. This allows us to make best use of the printing plates and sheets which is good for the environment and dramatically reduces production costs.
We make our products using so-called combined print runs, also known as gang run printing. We receive so many orders at Onlineprinters each day that we are able to collect different jobs of the same paper stock and weight to put them together on one sheet. This allows us to make best use of the printing plates and sheets which is good for the environment and dramatically reduces production costs. Each print job in offset printing requires individual print plates made of aluminium. They assure that the four primary colours cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black as the key colour) are transferred to the paper sheet inside the press.
Unlike conventional prepress using computer to film, which requires multi-stage film exposure and montages before plate exposure, we have used computer-to-plate (CTP) technology for years where the image is directly output on the plate, eliminating the use of film.
This also has several ecological advantages over the outdated computer-to-film technique. By minimising the number of work steps, we need less auxiliary material such as film, chemicals and rinse water and produce less greenhouse gas emissions.
Indispensable materials such as rubber coating, rinse water and printing plate developers are reduced to a minimum through state-of-the-art technology from Agfa. Almost all waste products are recycled and handed to our service providers together with a continuously documented disposal list.
The aluminium printing plates we use are recycled at a rate of up to 99 percent and are thus re-introduced into the raw material cycle.
PRINTING & FINISHING
Onlineprinters uses the latest generation of offset sheet printing machines from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG and digital printing presses from HP Graphics and other manufacturers. We produce a wide variety of printed material, from business cards to exhibition displays, in multiple production departments. Eco-friendly printing operations require efficient technology, smart organisation systems and qualified staff.
Depending on the type of printing press, we print without using alcohol in the operating process whenever possible, or at least with reduced amounts of alcohol. By using special cleaning cloths, we save up to 70 % on detergents and minimise contamination caused by detergents. Furthermore, we use mostly biologically safe detergents.
CENTRAL INK SUPPLY WITH A REUSABLE SYSTEM
The ink supply for our printing presses is based on 300 kg exchangeable metal containers. This central unit supplies each machine with ink. This eliminates the use of individual ink containers or ink cartridges and reduces plastic trash to zero.
A 300 kg exchangeable container of a primary colour is equivalent to 150 standard cartridges of the same colour. This saves us several thousand plastic ink cartridges in just one week. Another advantage of exchangeable containers over ink cartridges is that they are emptied completely leaving no ink unused inside the container.
In sheet offset printing, each project is printed with a so-called "make-ready sheet". It is needed to set up the machine correctly with regard to registration accuracy, register and colour scheme. Only then can the actual printing process of the product start.
We minimise production of waste paper by continuously checking the machine quality. For this purpose, our machinery is controlled by technicians from the printing press manufacturers at regular intervals.
The "Prinect Inpress Control" system, which automatically checks the ink application on the sheet while the machine is running, allows us to further reduce the number of unusable printed sheets.
UTILITIES AND OFFICE
Why waste energy? Our energy management team is always looking to find new ways to save energy and optimally use the existing resources.
This includes recovering the waste heat of machines, compressors and hot water lines through heat exchangers. This enables us to heat a complete printing shop floor without additional energy! Filter systems assure maximum water savings. Consumption-controlled compressors, fans and air shafts provide for the efficient use of energy. We contribute to protecting the environment also on a small scale by consistently recycling the ink and toner cartridges from our offices.
Preventing waste is a priority in our company. After all, the most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Unavoidable waste products are properly separated and recycled or disposed of.
ORDERING: CARBON NEUTRAL PRINTING
The climate protection strategy of a print shop must look at production processes as a whole and aim to avoid emissions where possible or minimize them. Nearly 200 countries adopted the 2016 Paris Agreement to combat climate change and make global economics carbon neutral by 2050. To achieve this, the main goal is to continuously reduce carbon emissions since carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change.
Despite all our optimisation efforts in production, it is presently not possible to eliminate carbon emissions completely in printing. Being aware of our ecological responsibility and taking our customers' demands for sustainability and environmental protection seriously, we have teamed up with the climate protection specialists from ClimatePartner to give our customers the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions produced while printing their products.
For this purpose, ClimatePartner determined the total carbon footprint of Onlineprinters from production technology and material used (product carbon footprint) to energy consumption in the production departments and offices to our employees' commute (corporate carbon footprint). Carbon emissions are calculated according to international standards such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. This enables the carbon emissions of each single product to be determined which customers can offset by contributing to a climate protection project.
HOW DOES CLIMATE NEUTRAL PRINTING WORK
One click is enough! During order checkout, customers simply choose the "climate neutral production" option in the "Payment/shipping" step. The amount of carbon produced by the print job is calculated automatically, allowing the carbon emissions for each single print job to be offset. The extra costs are less than one percent of the order value and are clearly stated for greater transparency. Customers can choose between different climate protection projects that help save carbon in a sustainable manner. This includes switching from fossil to renewable energy sources or reforestation projects.
By opting for climate neutral printing, customers take on responsibility for the environment and make a contribution to protecting it by reducing their carbon footprint. They can also show off this commitment to their customers, employees or partners: After checkout, they can download a PDF certificate with their name, order information and the amount of carbon offset to prove their climate protection effort.
Moreover, our label generator creates an individual climate protection label with a unique identification code as a PDF or EPS file which customers can integrate into their artwork prior to uploading it – also with a QR code.
WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED SO FAR?
Ever since our online shop has introduced the carbon neutral print option, around five to six per cent of our customers all over Europe have chosen to offset their carbon emissions each month. Since 2013, our customers have decided to support our climate protection projects more than 250,000 times. This amounts to 7,900 tonnes of carbon which is equivalent to the emissions of a car travelling all roads in the world.
CARBON NEUTRAL SHIPPING
All products printed by Onlineprinters are shipped in parcels to customers all over Europe. We dispatch more than one million parcels each year, which is equivalent to about two parcels per minute.
With DPD we have a shipping partner at our side that cares as much about the environment as we do. DPD assures carbon neutral shipping of every single parcel. Carbon neutral shipping is achieved through internal measures to reduce carbon emissions and by offsetting the remaining emissions through certified climate projects within the scope of emissions trading. In addition to reducing the energy consumption in their warehouses and using vehicles powered by electricity or natural gas, DPD also supports wind energy projects in India and Turkey.
Our shipping partner UPS, which handles our express shipping and PLUS standard shipping options, is also committed to protecting the environment. With the "UPS carbon neutral option", UPS supports projects that offset emissions caused by transporting the parcel such as reforestation, methane and landfill gas destruction or wastewater treatment. "UPS carbon neutral" has been audited by Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) and is certified by "The CarbonNeutral Company".
PACKAGING – AS MUCH AS NECESSARY, AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE
Each day, thousands of parcels containing printed products leave the Onlineprinters factories. The cardboard is made of FSC® certified recycled material. Printed products are shock- and pressure-sensitive which is why they have to be specially protected to reach customers in perfect condition. Parcels often travel several thousand kilometres all over Europe until reaching their destination.
The outer packaging must be clean and undamaged when customers get their parcel. For transport packages, Onlineprinters uses licensed and recyclable packaging materials only. In the field of large-format printing, we have invested in special technology to be able to cut the packaging to custom sizes. This saves packaging material and thus resources. We also avoid using bubble wrap for some products as the inside of the packaging is coated with cellulose.
IMPRIM’VERT®: CERTIFIED ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
At Onlineprinters we respect our planet through resource-saving printing operations. We have demonstrated our commitment once again with the certification to the French "Imprim’Vert" eco-label, which is French for "green print".
The rigorous certification program examines the complete printing process including production, energy management and social responsibility. A licensed Imprim’Vert auditor inspects the company and submits a report to an advisory committee consisting of representative of chambers, authorities and trade associations. If the application is approved, the printer is allowed to carry the Imprim’Vert label for one year and has to prove compliance with the criteria via an online audit in the next two years. Another on-site audit is conducted in the third year.
Onlineprinters assures compliance with five certification criteria:
1. Disposal of hazardous waste according to standard
Industrial companies have to dispose of a lot more batteries, electronic scrap or ink cartridges than private households. Special requirements apply to the disposal of hazardous waste to make sure that the hazardous substances are safely destroyed without impacting the environment.
Although Onlineprinters avoids many hazardous waste products, for example, by not using ink cartridges or film solutions to produce printing plates, we cannot entirely eliminate all waste that needs to be disposed of separately such as used detergents, dirty cleaning cloths or used fountain solution. With the Imprim’Vert label we show that all hazardous waste products are disposed of in compliance with the standard and without environmental impact.
2. Safe storage of harmful liquids
To assure best print results, our printing machines require regular maintenance. Several components such as inks and varnishes but also fountain solutions, detergents and special cleaning agents are needed to operate our printing presses. These liquids must be stored safely to prevent them from leaking into the environment and harming our personnel.
3. No use of toxic substances
Substances that have an immediate and severe toxic effect already in small amounts must be marked with the skull and crossbones symbol. For the Imprim’Vert label we have to prove that no toxic substances are in use.
4. Raising staff awareness
Environmental protection concerns us all. Carrying the Imprim’Vert label, we undertake to inform our employees and customers about our efforts to make our production environmentally friendly and raise their awareness for sustainable actions. This enables identifying more potential for resource-saving production processes because every employee knows his or her work environment best, and it helps customers consider ecological aspects when making purchases. We always welcome improvement suggestions.
5. Monitoring the energy consumption
To improve our energy balance, we have appointed a dedicated energy management team which monitors the energy consumption of Onlineprinters and permanently looks for optimisation potential. For example, we replaced older light bulbs with LED lights and use the waste heat of an adjoining building to heat the sprinkler system to avoid condensation and freezing. Imprim’Vert requires us to regularly monitor and report our energy consumption.
Since August 2017, Onlineprinters has been allowed to officially carry the Imprim’Vert eco label and we will continue our environmental protection efforts for the benefit of our planet and our customers.
ON WE GO
We are aware that becoming an eco-friendly print shop is a continuous process. We will therefore continue our efforts to improve our sustainable and environmental performance. Do you have any suggestions?
Then please write to