Case Study – Metropolitan Fine Printers, Vancouver, B.C.
Founded in Vancouver in 1977, Metropolitan Fine Printers has built a successful company based on the triple bottom line of concern for the environment, focus on profitability and community service. The company operates its plant with the highest environmental standards and supports a number of charitable organizations. For example, Metropolitan was the founding sponsor of Canstruction Vancouver, which has collected more than 925,000 cans of food for donation to local food banks.
Metropolitan began a formal environmental program in 2004 and has put a number of initiatives in place:
- Recycling. Paper, cardboard, aluminum plates, old dies, steel strapping, blanket edges, old UV bulbs and soft plastics are recycled.
- Reuse. Wood pallets are used as long as possible and then chipped for use on walking paths and hiking trails. Leftover inks are collected by the manufacturer for reuse. Chemicals are reused as long as possible, and then collected for reprocessing.
- Refurbished press blankets. Press blankets are treated by Enviro Image Solutions (EIS) and can be reused as if new, up to as many as 12 times; then they are recycled.
- Safe cleaning products. Cleaning products are soy-based and biodegradable.
- Office equipment. Computers, printers and “old” technology are donated or recycled.
- Low-waste production. Installed on the presses are “Eagle Eye” error detection systems, which instantly identify imperfections and reduce waste.
- Green fleet. Finished goods are delivered by bicycle couriers, hybrid cars or biodiesel-fueled trucks.
The company continues to push the environmental envelope in developing new technologies and educating clients about the best green practices for print.
Consumers and businesses are becoming more and more environmentally-conscious, and Metropolitan’s clients are asking for green products. Customers want to be as sustainable as possible, and the company can identify processes and papers that are as green as possible within their budget. FSC® certified papers are typically a little more expensive than commodity papers, however Metropolitan can offer recycled papers printed with UV inks as an alternative.
There is a learning curve for designers and print buyers with the wide range of green offerings on the market. By developing and showcasing new products, clients learn what green solutions are available.
These sustainable initiatives have been a great benefit economically to Metropolitan. For example, the blanket refurbishing program, a patented process developed by Metropolitan, has returned more than $1 million in savings to the company since it was developed. And the program is offered to other printers through Enviro Image Solutions.
Once a blanket can no longer be refurbished, the aluminum bar, rubber and fabric materials are repurposed to avoid landfills. For example, the rubber can be mixed with other materials as surface for highways and school track fields or used as an alternative solid fuel. EIS is currently collaborating with an Alberta-based drilling company that has developed a promising process using rubber to absorb waste from drilling for oil and gas, which is then converted into a base material for road construction.
As advice for other print service providers, Nikos Kallas, business development manager for Metropolitan Printer, says, “Imagine if you could claim you had used the most sustainable printing practices developed on all of your manufactured printed collateral? It might read something like this: ‘This product was produced using the most sustainable printing materials and practices available in the industry today. It was printed on 100 per cent PCW, FSC® certified paper using UV inks. No greenhouse gases were released in the process and any environmental impact has been offset. Going green not only saved the environment, but it also saved money.’ It’s possible today!”
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Source: Graphic Arts Magazine