Your Guide to Green
Today, customers want to know your environmental pedigree. Proving your company is active in sustainability is critical to making key alliances … not to mention finding new customers. Example: Many corporations require their printer partners to have sustainability certifications. If you obtain certifications in important areas, a customer can be assured you meet — maybe exceed — their own sustainability standards. Being able to show evidence of your best practices can even reduce vendor qualification costs.
To help you make sense of this ever-growing list of credentials, here’s a handy reference guide to some of the major certifications and voluntary programs.
Green Seal is one of the pioneers of sustainability standards, with criteria and guidelines that cover over 230 product and service categories, including the certification of the recycled content of paper. Green Seal identifies and promotes products and services that cause less toxic pollution and waste, conserve resources, protect habitats, and minimize global warming and ozone depletion.
Recycled content: While they don’t strictly regulate the use of recycled symbols, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) have established guidelines to ensure recycling symbols are used appropriately and marketing claims are true. There are three similar but distinct recycling symbols that identify:
• products that are recyclable
• products that contain 100% recycled content, and
• products that contain a portion of recycled content.
The logos are available from Mohawk here.
Windpower: The U.S. goal is to make 20% of electricity from wind by 2030. Businesses that use wind-produced energy can buy certified renewable energy credits (RECs) directly from the local power company or a renewable energy marketer. At Mohawk, purchasing renewable, emission-free wind-generated electricity RECs to match the electricity we buy is an essential part of our business strategy. Printers who choose Mohawk papers can use Mohawk’s windpower logo, showing their commitment to paper made with cleaner sources of energy.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is considered the leading voice in promoting responsible forest management worldwide. FSC certification means paper comes from a certified forest, a certified paper company is manufacturing it, and a certified printer is producing the product.
SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) is an organization that promotes sustainable forest management. SFI programs promote responsible forestry practices and chain-of-custody systems to track fiber content from the forest, through production and manufacturing, to the end product.
PEFC (Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) is the only entirely nonprofit global certification system supporting sustainable forests. PEFC works throughout the forest supply chain to promote good practices in the forest and ensure that timber and non-timber forest products are produced with the highest ecological, social and ethical standards.
Carbon neutral: A hot topic today, “carbon neutral” is a relatively new and complicated issue and hasn’t yet evolved into an accepted standard for third-party certification in the U.S. Carbon neutral means products and operations have had their greenhouse gas emissions calculated, reduced where possible, and offset through credits that fund additive, emission-free energy projects. It’s envisioned that a carbon-offset market will emerge that will allow businesses to financially support the shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy. Printers who use Mohawk’s self-designated carbon neutral papers can display the Mohawk carbon neutral seal on their printed materials.
Green-e is the nation’s leading independent certification and verification program for renewable energy (such as wind or solar). Printers and other businesses can have their renewable energy generation and/or purchases verified under the Green-e Marketplace program, demonstrating a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electric generation.
EPA Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that supports the purchase of green power. Green power is electricity produced from renewable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and low-impact hydro. Purchasing green power is a way to reduce the risk of climate change and environmental impacts associated with conventional electricity use.
EPA Smartway Program recognizes products and services that reduce transportation-related emissions, including greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution. Any company that ships or receives items delivered by truck or rail transport is eligible to participate in SmartWay as a Shipper Partner. Partners get opportunities and solutions to streamline operations, save money, and finance fleet upgrades.
SGP (Sustainable Green Printing) Partnership recognizes sustainability and best practices in printing operations. This is a whole-facility certification, in that it encompasses lithography, flexography, digital imaging, screen printing and bindery finish operations. The criteria cover products such as substrates, inks and coatings; the manufacturing process, involving press equipment and supporting technology; and the facility in its entirety — energy consumption, employees and supporting activities.
The Rainforest Alliance believes that the best way to keep forests standing is by ensuring it is profitable for businesses and communities to do so. Farms, forestry operations and other businesses that meet their certification and verification standards are allowed to carry the Rainforest Alliance seal.
Make a commitment
An easy way to get started is to use recycled, carbon neutral, windpower-produced paper in all your projects. Then think about which sustainability and green practices are most important to you and your company. Get certified or support a program in those areas.
Make sure your commitment to sustainability and green practices is shouted out loud and clear. Display the appropriate logos on all of your materials. Mohawk Fine Papers makes it easy for paper buyers to show their responsible choices. For windpower, carbon neutral, recycled and green seal logos, simply e-mail us to obtain print-ready artwork and permissions.
TIPS for going green:
- Being sustainable is good business. Your customers expect it, so get started.
- Take small steps. You may not be ready to obtain certifications, but you can select environmentally friendly papers and inks.
- Market your credentials. Let existing customers know you’re a sustainable printer, and make sure marketing materials make it plain to prospects.
- Show your stuff. Get logos from Mohawk and other responsible sources.