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What Does Print-On-Demand Have to Do with Sustainability?

By Bob Baldridge August 25, 2023 Print-on-demand

A recent report found that more than 70% of companies rank sustainability among their top priorities for the mid- and long-term future. This journey toward a more eco-friendly business model will more than likely touch every aspect of how companies operate, and this could — even with the increased availability and quality of recyclable papers and inks — make organizations a little hesitant to embrace print communications. 

However, the development and growth of digital print-on-demand (POD) technology — also known as on-demand print — can help companies print the same quality as traditional offset presses, but with an emphasis on reducing waste and creating more targeted, strategic print to help you unlock more sustainable usage of resources like ink and paper. 

With this in mind, let’s look at how print-on-demand technology can help companies meet their sustainability goals, while still leveraging high-quality, high-ROI print as part of their communications strategies. 

Print-on-demand creates more sustainable print by reducing waste

Print-on-demand is a digital print technology that gives you the ability to print the exact quantity of copies you need right when you need them. POD also provides more flexibility in terms of quantity compared to traditional offset printing, which requires companies to print large quantities in order to achieve the economies of scale that make the project worth the time, effort, and cost. 

Print-on-demand can help you reduce waste and increase the sustainability of your print communications in a couple of key ways. First, because POD only prints precise quantities at the time you need them, you can virtually eliminate the likelihood of excess or unused copies, which can be particularly important in the case of large-scale print like direct mail, or in the case of high-value print like full-color brochures. 

In addition, POD provides the ability to scale down your quantity at any time during the print process, which helps provide greater flexibility in responding to fluctuations in demand.

Print-on-demand uses more sustainable materials and processes

While offset presses use large, pre-produced plates and rubber cylinders to transfer ink to a sheet, digital presses use small printheads to apply ink to the page in tiny drops. Not only can these plates require some level of chemical treatment to ensure a quality transfer of ink, these plates and cylinders must be cleaned after each job, and this cleaning process requires the use of harsh and environmentally damaging solvents. Plus, these intense cleaning processes also require large amounts of water that would otherwise be conserved by using digital on-demand print.   

What’s more, digital on-demand print requires less ink to create consistent high-quality visuals for full-color, high-coverage pieces. Plus, digital POD is compatible with state-of-the-art inks that require less water in order to print pieces with the same vibrant color and image quality. 

Print-on-demand increases sustainability by creating more targeted, strategic print

The power of personalized print cannot be denied — in fact, a recent report found that more than 20% of consumers converted on a piece of direct mail marketing simply because it was personalized to them. Digital print-on-demand technology can help you capitalize on the kind of custom print communications that prompt consumers to act by creating personalized, highly-targeted pieces that are designed to get results.  

How, you ask? 

Digital printing enables you to leverage the data in your customer relationship management (CRM) software, which in turn allows you to harness the power of variable data printing (VDP) to create pieces specifically targeted to your audience. For example, you can use customer data like job title, geographic location, or purchase history to print personalized pieces that are more likely to resonate with your audience.

Plus, digital POD gives you the power to make edits or revisions to your project in real-time based on new consumer insights, updated customer data, or strategic changes to the tone of your messaging.   

In each example, on-demand print helps you think more strategically about the messaging of your print communications and optimize them for results on the first try. This helps reduce the resources necessary to print supplemental pieces, and it also helps you make more efficient use of your print marketing dollars. 

Varispark’s approach to digital print-on-demand technology can help you create more sustainable print that helps you grow your business. Tell us about your next project, and we’ll be in touch to help you create eco-friendly print that works.