Go Digital & Go Green: The Environmental Benefits of Digital Labels
Digitally printed labels have changed the printing industry a great deal over the years. Specifically, they’ve introduced a more eco-friendly method of printing. By choosing to go digital with your product labels, you’re also choosing to go green because of the environmental benefits that go hand-in-hand.
So, what exactly are those environmental benefits?
Digital printing reduces and prevents waste.
While digital printing still requires the use of paper materials, it typically uses much less paper than traditional printing. Flexographic printers have long setups and constant running waste, often higher than 15%. That means that for every order of labels produced, 15% more is just thrown in the trash. Since digital equipment doesn’t require setups, and uses electronic charges to place ink, scrap is often lower than 5%. Just switching printing techniques can eliminate 10% of paper waste, and that’s a conservative estimate. Some printers may also use recycled paper, which cuts down waste even further.
Proofs can be sent and approved electronically.
In the olden days, if you needed a press proof, it meant that a job had to be set up, plates had to be made, paper strung through the press, printed on, and then cut down to size. All of this for a few copies of your label. Now, through the magic of Adobe and similar programs, you can get a pretty good idea of what your final product will look like without any printing at all. PDF workflows are the norm, and totally paperless. That being said, there are still times press proofs are necessary. A spot color, special material, or special finish should be proofed to ensure they meet design expectations. Luckily, on a digital printing press it is easy to produce one copy of a job without excessive waste, again, making it less wasteful than a flexographic process.
Digital printing uses fewer toxic chemicals.
In traditional printing, both offset and flexographic, it takes a lot of toxic chemicals to produce a printed piece. You need dark room chemicals to produce plates, which themselves are polyester or rubber. In addition to all of these harmful byproducts, you also have to deal with the solvents necessary to remove ink from the rollers. Though digital printing still uses some chemicals, it does need some mild solvents to remove ink and the ink itself is oil based, it uses significantly less than older technologies.
All in all, digital printing positively impacts the environment by reducing much of the physical and chemical waste that was prevalent in traditional printing. So if cost-effectiveness, high quality, and reliability are important to you, add one more benefit to your list of reasons to choose digital printing – it’s an eco-friendly solution.