When David Scott launched Pro Printers in 1989, he didn’t intend to have the company focus on green practices. It wasn’t until a few years later that the idea occurred to him, almost by accident.
“While I happened to be walking through our pressroom one day, I smelled a foul odor from the chemicals one of my guys was using to clean the machines,” he explains. “I looked at the can and saw that one of its possible side effects was liver cancer. From then on I decided I didn’t want my employees or myself around those kinds of harmful materials any more.” So the Hudson-based business — which rolls out booklets, brochures, business cards, and other printed products — switched from chemical to citrus cleaners. “The strongest cleaner we have around here now is rubbing alcohol,” says Scott.
It wasn’t long before Scott’s plan to use green cleaning supplies germinated ideas for other ecologically smart proposals. The firm now uses soy-based inks, which are made using less oil than is customarily found in standard inks. Scott also implemented an ink recycling policy. “At the end of any given day, we could have several pounds of ink waste, which most printers just throw away,” he says. “Rather than have that keep happening, I hired a company that collects it, alters it, and uses it elsewhere as a fuel — so it doesn’t end up in the soil.”
The firm also switched from regular to recycled paper — most of which contains a much higher percentage of recycled material than the 30 percent standard that the government requires. “That basically means that mills can pick up the scraps off the floor, throw them in the next batch, and — if it makes up 30 percent of the new paper — they can call it recycled,” explains Scott. Pro Printers uses stock that is 50 percent recycled material or greater, and includes materials (such as last week’s newspaper or used paper towels) that are classified as postconsumer waste.
In continuing the effort to conserve paper, Scott purchased two eco-friendly printers. One, the Heidelberg, receives all files digitally; it is also waterless. Traditional presses use additive-laden water to regulate ink flow; the waterless Heidelberg uses none — sparing the water, the product, and the environment from synthetic chemicals.
Even though these policies and products have a positive effect on the environment, Scott has encountered some resistance from his customers. “Unfortunately, after the recession hit, fewer people were willing to pay 10 percent more for recycled paper,” Scott relates. “But on the plus side, the paper industry is changing, and there are recycled papers now that don’t cost any more than normal ones.”
Undeterred by the challenge, Scott continues to discover additional ways to help the planet. Chief among them: a new cooling system for the Heidelberg press. A side effect of the waterless machine is the large amount of heat it produces, which requires air conditioning to keep it stable. A new hooded exhaust system sends the heat outside, significantly reducing the need for air conditioning and electricity.
“I take great pride in the fact that we’re a green company, especially one in an industry that’s traditionally been hard on the environment,” Scott declares. “It’s nice knowing we’re limiting the carbon footprint, and our effect on the planet, as much as possible.”