Metro's Industry Leading Approach to Sustainable Printing Solutions
At Metro Printers we believe that Green Printing is a way of thinking and doing business. – Written by Mike Kyer, Owner, Metro Printers
I wasn’t convinced that sharing the below information about Metro Printers would make a difference. But, at the insistence of my paper sales rep, telling me I should, I will. She tells me that she sees the ‘behind the scenes’ of a LOT of print shops and that at Metro, we do things in our plant very differently. She tells me that no one is doing more than we are when it comes to sustainability, and that I should tell you, my customers, all about it. So, here it goes…
Sustainability in printing is tough on smaller printing companies. Just to implement the paper work and administration time to get your printing plant ‘up to speed’ with regards to sustainable practices is extensive, not to mention the large yearly fee to be allowed to print the sustainable certified logo on your product.
I have been committed to being one of the leaders in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland with regards to forward thinking on chemistry. At Metro, we have been using soy based inks and running alcohol free presses for decades (there are many shops in town that haven’t seen fit to change still). We also use the only shop towel cleaner in the province that I could find (Canadian Linen Supply) that doesn’t dump their waste water back into the sea or land fills. All waste material is separate and processed in an environmentally sustainable manner. At Metro Printers, we have a very serious re-cycle program for waste paper, offcuts and trimmings. Nothing that is clean recyclable paper ever goes into the garbage.
In 2008, we made a substantial investment on plate-imaging equipment that is completely chemical free. Meaning no chemicals to be disposed of from this machine — ever.
I did a lot of this for selfish reasons, but not without also thinking about my team. I was personally operating the presses and didn’t like the fact that I was touching harsh chemicals daily, so I started investigating options. What I found was that in Europe they have been using alcohol replacements for many years and the printers there were having great success with it (even though most people in North America were saying things like “You can’t put work out without alcohol”).
Soy based ink is something we discovered as a result of having a customer who had toxic chemical syndrome. His whole family was afflicted by it. It was the result of being exposed to carpeting adhesive that was used in their new home. He actually would break out in a terrible rash if he was exposed to certain chemicals or oil based ink. He came to me and request that I use soy-based inks on his projects and I found it was a much better ink overall. Metro has used it exclusively ever since, never looking back. I also insist on my press operators using gloves when performing colour washes on the press to protect them from any chemicals, even though we use all automatic wash up devices to reduce their exposure.
I’m passionate about learning whatever I can about new options and alternatives. I try everything I can to ensure that at Metro, we are doing everything we can to take care of our planet and people.
Running an environmentally safe printing business is about our children, and their children. It's about sustainability
Metro Printers does all of the below and we are constantly trying new ways of producing high quality products in a sustainable manner.
- Eliminating the use of Isopropyl alcohol in the printing process
- Producing chemical free plates
- Using the most advanced, automated machinery in the world that wastes less paper and takes less time/uses less energy
- A commitment to purchasing new generation machines that use far less petroleum solvents metered out by automatic wash up devices
- Using water based (or aqueous) coating solutions instead of oil based varnishes
- Having your shop towels cleaned by the most advanced and environmentally conscious laundry facility in the region
- Purchasing paper from local or geographically close paper mills as opposed to buying paper overseas
- Printing with vegetable based inks
- Having a proper recycle program in place for offcuts and set up sheets