Top Tips for Running a Successful Eco-Friendly Print Shop

August 30, 2023

In 2021, the U.S. printing industry was valued at $77.7 billion with approximately 46,200 commercial printers that employ about 370,000 people. While the number of U.S. print shops has declined slightly – mostly due to pandemic challenges – the number of sustainable commercial printers is increasing due to shifting customer priorities and the acceleration of digital transformations.

The terms green printing, eco-friendly printing and sustainable printing are often used interchangeably. In varying degrees, they all refer to the standards, processes or materials that are generating environmental, social and economic benefits, while not using up too many resources or causing pollution.

Successful commercial printers build their value creation capabilities around three sustainability tenets – planet (environmental), people (social) and profit (economic). Here are some best practices for running a more ecologically sustainable print shop for each.


Most of us are familiar with the 3Rs (reuse, recycle and replace) to reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve natural resources, save energy, reduce pollution and protect wildlife. While yes, our industry uses trees, we also replace and invest in their growth. And it’s time to debunk the “bad paper printing” myth.

Trying to do everything to save the planet all at once will render you effective at nothing. So instead of attempting to boil the ocean, focus on boiling a pot. Start by assessing what you’re currently doing and take small but intentional steps that will lead to high-impact process improvements and results toward achieving your ultimate sustainability goals. Then map out ways for improving customer/employee experiences and outcomes through the use of your eco-friendly print materials, packaging and equipment.


As with any change management initiative, our chances for success significantly increase when employees are actively engaged in the process, particularly when change is aligned with their values. In fact, Edelman’s special report “Trust in the Workplace” found that seven out of ten employees wanted their job to bring societal impact, calling it a deal breaker in job consideration. To maximize employee engagement, consider:

  • Distributing a company-wide survey or conducting cross-functional roundtables. Share your sustainability goals, your rationale behind them and ask for feedback, ideas and recommendations to best achieve them. Report back on actionable insights gleaned from results.
  • Establishing a Sustainability Steering Group (SSG) including representatives from HR for employee value propositioning (your value story to attract and retain employees) and workplace safety; communications/marketing for internal and external storytelling across all channels, platforms and search engines; sales/service to share customers’ and their end-use customers’ expectations and desired outcomes; and finance to align financial measures with relevant CSR/ESG initiatives and performance metrics.
  • Inviting your SSG to executive leadership meetings to report on their progress, accomplishments and action plans. Include their updates in CEO messages and celebrate key milestones.


All businesses are in business to make a profit. Running an eco-friendly print shop or a profitable print shop should not be mutually exclusive. The intention of commercial printers with strong sustainable practices is to have both. See below for some ways to achieve this.

  • Obtain and promote credible certifications (FSC, CGP, SFI, etc.) earned.
  • Vet and select the best partners to purchase and safely manage waste disposal of products and use technology for monitoring and reporting dashboards.
  • Equip employees to be external brand ambassadors.
  • Seize opportunities to demonstrate your capabilities to existing and prospective customers, including how the integrated use of print and digital is a force multiplier for both.
  • Measure, manage and maximize communications that illustrate how your efforts are delivering meaningful value to your business – not just vanity metrics but results, outcomes and impact to your bottom line.

The riches and rewards

By starting where you are, setting attainable short-, medium-, and long-term goals; and measuring, learning and adjusting as you move deliberately forward, your efforts to run a successful sustainable print shop and be a purpose-driven employer will not be in vain. You’ll be rewarded with enduring profitable customer relationships that accelerate growth for your business while helping to build a more sustainable planet for us all.

Learn more about the digital transformation possibilities in label and package printing and our production printing equipment.

Jason Dizzine
Director, Client Engagement Center & Portfolio Management and Planning

As Director, Client Engagement Center & Portfolio Management and Planning, Jason oversees the team responsible for Konica Minolta’s 18,500 square-foot client engagement center (CEC), located in Ramsey, NJ. The CEC is a state-of-the-art facility showcasing the latest technologies revolutionizing the production print industry. Jason also manages Konica Minolta’s Portfolio Management and Planning team, which establishes marketing strategies for the production printing business across all Konica Minolta channels.

Jason has more than 30 years of industry experience, including several marketing leadership roles driving the strategic direction of partnerships with 3rd party technology providers. Prior to joining Konica Minolta, he led Corporate Product Marketing Organizations for Ricoh and Kyocera, driving the design and implementation of go-to-market strategies for MFPs, Printers, Software, Services and Alliance/Partner management across all channels. Additionally, Jason has managed corporate branding, advertising, public relations, marketing communications and corporate web strategies teams, as well as environmental sustainability and product compliance initiatives.