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Green Printing at Onlineprinters

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Two hands protecting a green shoot in the ground.

Green printing

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.

server room

The Onlineprinters servers are carbon neutral by default.

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. 

Workers maintaining a pylon.

All carbon emissions from our web shops are offset by supporting renewable power generation in Virunga.

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. 

A small hydropower plant in tropical surroundings.

A small hydropower plant replaces charcoal in Virunga.

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRODUCTION

The offset printing department of Onlineprinters

Onlineprinters saves resources by using state-of-the-art technology

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

Multiple jobs placed on one sheet.

Gang run printing saves paper, making it an eco-friendly production method.

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. 

An offset press with a plate inserted

Reduced material consumption thanks to "computer-to-plate" printing

PRINTING & FINISHING

Modern offset sheet printing machines from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG

Modern machinery enables eco-friendly print operations.

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 banners, in multiple production departments. Eco-friendly printing operations require efficient technology, smart organisation systems and qualified staff.

GENERAL CONSUMABLES

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 central ink supply system

Exchangeable containers make sure that not a single drop of ink is wasted at Onlineprinters.

The ink supply for our printing presses is based on 660 lbs 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 660 lbs 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. 

WASTE PAPER

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

An employee inspects a sheet.

Light, water, heat and raw materials: Eco-friendly measures can be adopted in all departments.

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.  

IMPRIM’VERT®: CERTIFIED ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

The French Imprim’Vert eco label

The French Imprim’Vert eco-label distinguishes environmentally friendly and resource-saving print shops.

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.  
 

Barrels of ink and cleaning agents.

Hazardous liquids are stored safely at Onlineprinters.

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.  

An instructor posting coloured sticky notes on a board.

At Onlineprinters we conduct employee trainings at regular intervals to keep our staff up to date on eco-friendly printing operations.

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 

environmentalprotection@onlineprinters.com