Recently there’s been a groundswell of consumer support for sustainable business practices among marketers. And no group has drawn more ire than catalogers, whose efforts are visible to the public every day in the mailbox. Fortunately, the printing and paper industries have a wide range of tools and processes available to reduce the carbon footprint of mailings. Here are 10 key practices you should implement to make your business more sustainable:
1. Think big picture. It’s the whole supply chain, not just paper. What happens down the line starts at the design stage. Form a team and think the catalog through from beginning to end. Maybe a heavier-weight paper keeps you from having to reprint a catalog that gets frequent use.
2. Modeling and targeting. Use database mining to identify your best customers and most likely prospects. With this information, use print technology to create customized catalogs for each customer to improve customer receptiveness and results.
3. Practice list hygiene best practices. Stop the waste of undeliverable and unwanted mail by cleaning up your mailing lists. Only rent lists from companies that also practice good list hygiene.
4. Digitize the front-end process. Work with print vendors who can provide 100 percent digital work flow, from order entry to 3-D dummy creation to proofing and plating. You’ll save time and money while eliminating important ecological hazards including chemicals, fuel and more.
5. Get your vegetables. Specifying soya- and agri-based inks can significantly lower volatile organic compound emissions. The percentage of vegetable oil in the ink depends on the printing process. Use only aqueous coatings.
6. Choose paper wisely. This involves more than specifying your paper’s recycled content. Consider weight and dimensional issues, as well as evaluating papers made from fiber under a recognized, sustainable forest management system along with chain of custody certified printers.