Ecological printing of a book

Environmental management is trendy. More and more business leaders are trying to take into account the impact of their activities on the environment. On the consumer side, the demand for sustainable services and products is also increasing. From ecological flights to clothing made of recycled cotton: today, anything is possible.

In the field of books and publishing, topics such as the environment and sustainability are becoming increasingly important. “How do I get my book printed in an environmentally friendly way? “is a question we are regularly asked and we understand why.

After all, you don’t want the paper used to print your book to come from old-growth forests, as deforestation severely affects the unique flora and fauna, as well as the indigenous population. This is why we will explain in this article how to avoid this.

If you want to have your book printed in an environmentally friendly way, to respect the theme of your book for example, or to meet the wishes of a potential customer or simply because you attach importance to it, there are several elements to take into account.

You can check (or ask directly) if your printing company uses organic ink and ecological paper, you can find out about the different labels and you can do what is necessary to make the production of your book as ecological as possible.

We will cover all this and more in this article. First, we’ll talk about the different terms related to eco-friendly book printing, and then we’ll explain how we at Pumbo do it. Finally, we look at the steps you can take.

Using organic ink

Without ink we would not have images and texts: without images and texts we would not have a book. It is not easy to avoid using ink, but if you want to have your book printed in an environmentally friendly way, you can check whether the printing company you are considering collaborating with uses ink that is harmful to the environment.

Fortunately, the use of harmful ink is less common today than – let’s say – a quarter of a century ago. In the past, heavy metals such as chromium, lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and selenium were added to ink.

The pigment used to make ink is of synthetic origin and produced from mineral oils such as petroleum. In the mid-1990s, most French printing works switched to vegetable oil-based inks. In the meantime, this is also the case for the majority of printing works abroad.

This vegetable oil-based ink is called bio (or biological) ink. This type of ink is much less harmful to the environment, is more easily recycled, is biodegradable and is made from raw materials that can be replanted endlessly.

Don’t worry that using bio ink will reduce the quality of your prints. Indeed, bio ink even offers some technical advantages. Organic ink is known for the intensity of its colours. In addition, the ink layer is thinner, which means that printing with bio ink dries faster.

Unfortunately, not all inks are suitable for vegetable oil-based production. Exceptions include, for example, fluorescent, UV and some metallic inks. If you are thinking about using this kind of ink for (the cover of) your book, but also want to keep your commitment to the environment, it is probably best to look for a more environmentally friendly alternative.

Use environmentally friendly paper

If you wish to present an ecological book, it is important that it is printed on ecological paper. This can be recycled paper, but it is not mandatory.

We consider ecological paper to be paper from sustainable sources, produced as ecologically as possible. This does not only mean that the wood used comes from sustainably managed forests, but also that the processing and transport are as environmentally friendly as possible.

It is a myth that environmentally friendly paper is more expensive, of lower quality or often unavailable. In this respect, there is no difference with standard paper.

It is impossible to tell from the visual appearance of the paper whether it is environmentally friendly. Therefore, it should not be assumed that uncoated paper is automatically environmentally friendly because of its natural appearance and that coated paper is not environmentally friendly by default. But how can you verify this? It is possible thanks to several labels.

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