written by
Piet De Pauw

Going Green with Digital Efficiency: An Introduction to Sustainable Print Technologies

Trends and Insights 9 min read , August 30, 2023

If you're a decision maker in the print industry and you're yet to embrace sustainability in your operations, there's never been a better time. Implementing environmentally responsible practices doesn't just help save the planet, but also propels your business to the next level of success. Ready to find out how? Let's jump in.

From Black Ink to a Greener Palette: the Colorful Journey towards Sustainability

The print industry, for all its indispensability, has traditionally been a heavy polluter. Mountains of paper waste, streams of ink, and the hum of energy–guzzling machines – this is the stereotype we're all familiar with. And it's not entirely untrue. In the past, high–volume print runs often led to excessive paper consumption and energy waste. And let's not forget the toxic chemicals found in inks and solvents.

However, the good news is that we're at a crucial turning point. Legislation worldwide is setting ever higher environmental standards. Governments are no longer mere spectators; they're stepping in to mandate sustainable practices. Take the EU's Green Deal, aiming for a toxic–free environment and a zero pollution ambition. Similarly, regulations like the American Clean Energy and Security Act stress the importance of emission reduction in various industries, including print.

At the same time, a seismic shift is occurring in the business world's mindset, and print is no exception. Green is no longer just the color of money; it's becoming the emblem of corporate responsibility. Businesses are setting their own sustainability targets, not just because of regulatory pressure, but because it makes good business sense. They're realizing that waste is detrimental to both the environment and their bottom line. Sustainable practices are now seen as pathways to cost savings, increased efficiencies, and an improved public image.

The print industry, therefore, is ripe for a green revolution, and part of this revolution will come from efficiencies delivered by software. So, let's delve into how technology is planting the seeds for this transformation.

Forward inking: How Tech innovation is Making the Print Industry Sustainable

Struggling with perennial tight margins, the print industry is no stranger to seeking ways to increase efficiency. Software technology, once a beacon of cost–saving and streamlined operations, has emerged as an unexpected hero in the green revolution. As businesses streamline processes to reduce costs, they're also finding that they're benefiting the planet. And some remarkable, efficiency–focused innovations are making this exciting transition possible right now. Let’s take a look at the key players in this transformation:

  1. Print Management Software: Optimizing printer usage and efficiently managing print jobs has not only minimized paper, energy, and ink wastage, but also shrunk carbon footprints by reducing the numbers of servers and printers needed, as well as through making it more practical to use sustainable materials like recycled paper and soy–based inks.
  2. Efficient Logistics: By optimizing delivery routes and batching shipments, software solutions have cut fuel consumption and carbon emissions drastically, making the transportation process greener.
  3. Precision Printing and Virtual Proofs: The deployment of software tools that enable soft (virtual) proofs has minimized waste by curbing the need for multiple physical test prints through highly accurate screen renderings. Accurate output also significantly reduces waste, as every printer knows.
  4. Automation for Improved Efficiency and Increased Productivity: The automation of print workflow tasks like job scheduling and file management, and the provision of tools that simplify the creation and management of print jobs, has not only enhanced overall business efficiency but also significantly reduced resource wastage.
  5. Web–to–Print Software: The shift from paper order forms to online creation and management of print orders through this technology has brought about a considerable reduction in paper and energy consumption, giving businesses a cleaner and greener operating model.
  6. Predictive Maintenance: Anticipating printer issues before they occur through predictive maintenance tools has brought down waste from unnecessary part replacements and printer errors, reducing the resources consumed and the waste generated.
  7. Recycling Programs: Software modules that track and manage recycling of production consumables, paper, and other materials have made it possible for print businesses to adopt an end–to–end sustainability approach.
  8. Job Optimization: AI–driven job planning software can now deliver fully comprehensive job plans that weigh efficiency and cost as part of the planning alternatives they present.
  9. Waste Tracking: Advanced software that tracks and analyzes waste data has been pivotal in helping businesses identify opportunities to reduce waste and increase efficiency, leading to a substantial decrease in unnecessary consumption and waste generation.

This tech–driven transition towards sustainability is unfolding across the industry, and leading the charge is Enfocus, championing the integration of environmental consciousness right into the core of its print software.

Enfocus: Sustainability Superpowers in Print

Enfocus products have become key enablers in the shift towards sustainable practices within the printing industry by enhancing operational efficiency and reducing environmental impact in tandem. This represents a significant positive contribution to this all–important movement.

Here's a glimpse of the ways in which Enfocus tools are aiding the march towards a more sustainable future:

  1. Enfocus Switch: Eliminate time and energy–consuming repetitive tasks with software that fully automates print workflows. Switch is infinitely adaptable, and is capable of bringing efficiencies to everything from the nitty–gritty like ink coverage decisions to big picture routing and planning choices.
  2. Enfocus PitStop Pro & PitStop Server: Streamline print production with preflighting and editing tools that make sure your print jobs are error–free and ready for production. With features like ink color management, bleed correction and much more, PitStop Pro and PitStop Server play a pivotal role in reducing ink usage and improving print quality to minimize job errors.
  3. Enfocus Phoenix2Switch: Transform your print workflows with advanced planning automation capabilities. Phoenix2Switch stands out with features like automatic file conversion, optimized nesting, and advanced AI tools. It calculates the most cost–effective and resource–effective options for every single job, making it a game–changer in sustainable printing.
  4. Enfocus PDF Review Module: Go digital with your review process through simple, print-orientated online collaboration and review of PDF files. By reducing the need for physical proofs and the transportation of prints, the PDF Review Module minimizes paper waste and cuts down carbon emissions.
  5. Enfocus Griffin: Master the art of efficient shape nesting for wide format with Griffin. With its advanced automation capabilities, Griffin not only enhances efficiency in print production environments but also significantly reduces ink and paper wastage.

Onwards and Eco–wards: The Greener Future of Print Technologies

As we draw from our experience in the field to anticipate the future of sustainable print technologies, several key trends dominate.

First and foremost, automation is taking center stage in the contemporary print industry. The automation of tasks – from simple aspects such as job scheduling and file management to more complex operations like print job creation and management – is setting the stage for a leap in business efficiency. The end result? Less human and physical resources are wasted due to improved workflow and job planning, leading to a more sustainable materials usage. Job processing becomes less error–prone and wasteful, ushering in a new era of more sustainable practices.

"No step is too small or insignificant in your journey to workflow automation and sustainability. Enfocus Switch provides the perfect solution for businesses to introduce greater efficiency while being powerful and agile enough to scale with the future needs of your business". — Rachel Keenan, Director of Business Development, DistributorX, Enfocus distributor for the United Kingdom, Ireland and North America

Tools like Enfocus Phoenix2Switch are playing a pivotal role in this context, facilitating more efficient planning and imposition, thereby significantly decreasing the amount of paper waste produced.

Moreover, businesses are showing a stronger preference for recycled or FSC–certified paper, as part of their shift towards more sustainable alternatives. Recall that each tree felled for paper signifies the loss of an entire ecosystem, not just a single tree. The industry's move towards these sustainable paper options provides an opportunity to apply the brakes on deforestation and curb the loss of biodiversity.

Next, we turn our attention to the crucial role of ink optimization. The utilization of intelligent, configurable ink management systems that work on a per–job basis is revolutionizing the industry. These systems are enabling substantial savings by cutting down on unnecessary ink usage, thereby significantly reducing waste and contributing to overall sustainability efforts.

> Using PitStop, we are able to take ink readings of artwork, and put that into our MIS system. Our MIS system is then able to use that information to route the jobs within our production facility. Those routing decisions save us around £30,000 every month.

– Matthew Kay, Software Developer, Bluetree Group

It's also time to say hello to the world of eco–friendly inks made from sustainable materials like soy. These aren't just better for the environment – they're often better for your bottom line too, providing a win–win for businesses and Mother Nature alike.

The digital device–based world is also leaving its mark on the print industry. With the advent of online collaboration tools and the ability to review PDF files in the digital domain, the need for physical proofs has fallen by the wayside. That's a lot less paper wasted and a lot more trees breathing easy.

Efficient logistics is another area that's ripe for revolution. Imagine a world where software–driven logistics optimize delivery routes and batch shipments, making them as lean and mean as possible. The result? A significant reduction in fuel consumption and carbon emissions – good for business, and great for the environment.

Lastly, but by no means least, the rise of predictive maintenance tools holds promise for the future. By anticipating printer issues before they arise, these tools help avoid waste from unnecessary replacements and errors. It's the equivalent of having a crystal ball for your printer – one that saves you time, money, and lots of headaches.

These are just some of the trends that hint at a future where sustainable print technologies are no longer an option; they're the norm. A world where print is not just efficient, but kind to our planet. We have the power to shape this future. The question is, are you ready to be part of it?


Whether you're a seasoned player in the print industry or just starting out, it's undeniable that adopting sustainable software technologies is more than a game–changer – it's becoming the standard business practice within the print industry and beyond. For the sake of our environment and your bottom line, it's time to step into the future of printing. CMYG may never replace CMYK but Green is now going to be a key element of all printing businesses and practices going forwards. So let's work together to make our mark on a more sustainable print industry.

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