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Revolutionizing Sustainability in Print: How Digital Printing Combats Paper Waste

How digital printing combats paper waste and deforestation

In a world increasingly focused on sustainability, industries are actively exploring innovative solutions to reduce their environmental footprint. 

In 2023, the printing industry—historically associated with paper waste—has undergone a big transformation with the emergence of digital printing technology. 

Digital printing has revolutionized the way we print, offering numerous benefits that contribute to a more sustainable printing industry!

In this blog, we’ll explore just how digital printing helps combat paper waste, and promotes sustainability.

The Reality of Paper Waste, By the Numbers 

There’s no skirting around it: paper waste is a big environmental concern in the United States. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paper and paperboard products make up the largest portion of the municipal solid waste stream, accounting for approximately 23% of total waste generated in 2018!

But there’s good news, too: in recent years, recycling rates for paper and paperboard in the United States have been relatively high. The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) reported the overall paper recovery rate was 66.2% in 2019. This means about two-thirds of paper products consumed in the U.S. were recycled.

Despite the high recycling rates, however, a significant amount of paper still ends up in landfills. In 2018, approximately 22 million tons of paper and paperboard ended up in landfills, according to the EPA.

Benefits of Digital Printing in Reducing Paper Waste

  • Having a Smart Inventory Program | One of the key advantages of digital printing is its print-on-demand capability. Unlike traditional printing methods, which often require large print runs, digital printing enables precise and customized printing in smaller quantities. This reduces the need for excessive inventory and eliminates the risk of overprinting and subsequent wastage. By printing a 30-90 day supply of your materials, digital printing minimizes paper waste significantly and decreases the chances of obsolescence.
  • Reduced Setup Waste | Traditional printing processes involve complex setup procedures, including plates, chemicals, and extensive calibration. This results in considerable setup waste, including discarded prints, misalignments, and calibration sheets. Digital printing eliminates the need for such setup waste as it operates directly from digital files! This not only reduces paper waste, but also minimizes the consumption of chemicals and resources associated with setup procedures.
  • Variable Data Printing | Digital printing technology allows for variable data printing, which enables the customization of individual prints within a single print run. This feature is particularly useful in marketing and direct mail campaigns, where personalized content is essential. By tailoring each print to the specific recipient, businesses can achieve higher engagement rates and minimize the production of irrelevant or unused materials. This targeted approach helps to conserve resources and also reduce paper waste.
  • Proofing and Corrections | Traditional printing methods can require multiple rounds of proofing, which involve printing samples for review and approval. This iterative process can lead to significant paper waste, since each proofing cycle can require several prints. In contrast, digital printing allows for more accurate and efficient proofing. Print-ready digital files can be reviewed and modified on-screen, significantly reducing the need for hard-copy proofs. This streamlined approach helps conserve paper resources and reduces waste.
  • Short Run Publishing | Digital printing has revolutionized the publishing industry by enabling print-on-demand book production. In the past, publishers had to commit to large print runs, leading to excess inventory, unsold copies, and subsequent waste. With digital printing, books can be printed as and when they are ordered, eliminating the need for large print runs! Not only does this approach reduce paper waste, but it also helps independent authors and publishers bring their works to market without the financial risks associated with traditional publishing.

Find Your Perfect Printing Partner

Digital printing technology has emerged as a game-changer in the printing industry, offering sustainable solutions to combat paper waste. 

And as the world increasingly prioritizes eco-conscious practices, the adoption of digital printing represents a crucial step toward a greener and more sustainable future for the printing industry.

Ready to experience the difference a printing partner can make? 

Talk with a member of the JPS team today and get started on your path towards less waste and more satisfied customers!


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