The impact of printing

“Girl on a swing” by Stig (c) 1990

The impact of printing on the environment is often overlooked.  It’s not just a matter of using recycled paper: from electricity usage to harmful chemicals, there are many ways the printing industry affects the environment.  And yet, printing has the lowest take-up of environmental policies of any major industry.

At Oxford GreenPrint we do most of our printing on a Risograph printer, which has several environmental advantages:

  • Inks: Risograph inks are made from vegetable oils, not hydrocarbons, and therefore are healthier to both the environment and the workers.  This makes our printed material compostable.
  • Electricity usage: a Riso printer uses only a sixth of the electricity of a digital one.  That means our business uses very little energy.
  • Waste cartridges: unlike toner cartridges (used in laser printers), which are carcinogenic, Rico ink cartridges can be changed without health implications.  And all of our empty ink cartridges are recycled.
  • Paper: we use only 100% recycled paper made from post-consumer waste paper and card.  This means less trees are felled, and less paper-waste is sent to landfill.  Deforestation is a huge problem in many parts of the world.  It harms local people and wildlife, and often brings soil erosion and increased flooding later.
  • We do not use glossy paper.  Glossy or pre-coated paper is not normally made with plastic but with a special china clay that is dug out of a huge open-cast mine in Cornwall.  This is a non-renewable resource and makes the paper harder to recycle.


NB:  We do also have a laser printer for the occasional full-colour print-job, such as the cover of a booklet or a poster that relies on full-colour to be effective.  But we encourage our designers and clients to adapt their designs to work on the Risograph printer.