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6 ways to make your direct mail campaigns greener

Howard Lake | 31 May 2016 | Blogs

It’s your biggest DM campaign of the year. Donations are on the increase and the creative is really resonating with your donor base. But there’s this nagging sense of guilt that surfaces every time you get a sample back from the printer.
Couldn’t we do this without killing trees?
Many charity marketers are lulled into the misconception that print is ‘less green’ than other media. Forays into email and social media are perceived to be more environmentally-friendly than all those door drops, inserts and mailpacks. But rarely do they engage supporters and increase donations in quite the same way.
The good news is that direct mail can be just as green (if not greener) than digital fundraising. In fact, this personal, tangible and measurable medium can even be climate neutral in the hands of the right printer.
With the print industry making serious improvements across the board to reduce environmental impact, alongside some enlightening research produced by Gartner dispelling the myth of digital greenness, print is becoming a best-in- use fundraising channel for even the most ardent eco-charity.
So, if you’re looking to increase your DM activities, but want to stay at your greenest, what do you need from a printer?

Choosing a truly environmentally-friendly print partner

While recycled paper is de rigeur, it’s only one small step in the larger process of procuring print through an eco-friendly printing service. Check out our list of six criteria to tick off when choosing a print supplier:

1. Biodegradable inks

Some serious leaps forward have been made in recent years when it comes to the inks used in large-scale commercial printing.
Many printers have long abandoned the polluting, solvent-based inks of yesteryear. Today most favour alcohol-free and biodegradable vegetable-based inks made from plant oils which are far less harmful to both the environment and the people working in print production.
What’s more, many of these newer ink technologies actually make printing quicker and more efficient, and print has come down in cost as a result. It’s a win-win!


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2. Offsetting and carbon neutrality

Let’s be honest: every industry creates carbon. The complete elimination of a manufacturing business’ carbon footprint is currently only found in sci-fi.
However, through offsetting, many printers are making their entire enterprise carbon neutral – a noble pursuit.
“With climate-neutral direct mail, annual reports or brochures, you can emphasise your charity’s sustainability and climate protection strategy,” says Phil Foster, Key Account Manager for online printer, SAXOPRINT.
“We work with ClimatePartner, a leading climate change consultancy, to offer all our customers the option to offset the CO2 emissions on their print jobs. Most of the time, this can be achieved with only a small 1-2% increase in the cost of their order,” he adds.
“This money goes towards some amazing green projects across the globe, from the installation of wind farms to reforestation or hydropower projects.
“Since we began offering carbon offsetting through ClimatePartner, we’ve offset 1,409 tonnes of CO2 – that’s the equivalent of nearly 537 football fields worth of protected habitat in just one year,” Phil says.
ClimatePartner is due to celebrate its tenth anniversary this year. Today the Berlin-headquartered consultancy, with subsidiaries in Austria and Switzerland, works with a vast range of sectors from ecommerce to logistics. But it all started with the printing industry.
“Print was the first industry we started working with back in 2006. We pioneered the concept of climate neutral printing, making it possible to automatically offset a print product’s carbon emissions,” says ClimatePartner UK Sales Manager, Nick Hancock.
“The emissions caused by the substrate, printing materials, machinery and transportation are all taken into account through our work with internationally-recognised carbon offset projects. All CO2 savings are tangible and tradable and documented in the form of reduction certificates.
“Meaning printers and their customers can quantify and compensate the carbon footprint on every print job,” Nick says.

3. FSC-certified paper

Forget the fallacy that the paper industry is cutting down the Amazon rainforest. Thanks to the efforts of organisations like the FSC, much of the paper used in printing today comes from sustainable forests and much of that paper is itself recycled and reused.
To get your direct mail out while maintaining your green aspirations, always choose an FSC-certified paper from an FSC-certified printer.

4. Sustainable delivery

Maximising your charity’s budget is obviously paramount. To reduce spend on fundraising expenses and stay as green as possible, you’re going to need to abandon your local printers and go for one of the big boys, most probably one of those found in Germany or Italy.
However, this means delivery, and delivery means carbon. Fret not, though, as the printing industry has been quick to recognise the need for change in this area too.
Programmes such as TotalZero from DPD ensure the carbon neutrality of shipping and go some way to delivering a sustainable solution.
If you want to stay as green as possible, make sure your printer is signed up to one of these programmes before you place your order.

5. Waste management

The reduction of waste was the first change many printers made in their drive to become sustainable. Consequently, many printers have placed sustainability and the limitation of waste at the core of their business.
Waste management processes include storing inks in high volume containers to avoid the waste associated with multiple small ink cans, recycling unavoidable paper waste and using waste heat from machines to heat production facilities.

6. Internal processes

When choosing a printer for your DM campaigns, it’s worth investigating what energy-saving measures they implement internally. Some, for example, may have processes around lighting control, automatically triggering LED lights throughout their plant to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
The shift towards greener, more sustainable operating processes is a sea change for many printers, so look out for sustainable practices being implemented in any of their marketing material.

Grow donations (and good karma) with green suppliers

It’s clear: green printing is about more than just recycled paper. Armed with this checklist, you’ll be able to suss out truly green printers from those who just pay lip service to environmentally-friendly printing processes. And you’ll feel a lot better about your DM campaigns. Happy green printing!
Saxoprint - print is greener than you think
SAXOPRINT offers exceptional print quality. The company has one of the most modern technology parks in the global printing industry at its disposal. The online printing company has invested almost €20 million in new equipment, production processes and new employees over the last two years. Thanks to efficient work processes in prepress, production, processing and dispatch, as well as the very latest technologies, the company is able to carry out thousands of print orders every day on schedule.
Sustainability and climate protection are also important factors for SAXOPRINT. Using the very latest printing technologies, over 350,000 customers throughout Europe count on SAXOPRINT for their environmentally friendly printing needs. Based on the collaboration with ClimatePartner, a leading provider of climate protection solutions, customers can make their own individual contribution to climate protection and optimise their CO₂ footprint.