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Tips to Reduce Your Shop's Environmental Footprint

There is a lot of talk these days about "going green," or focusing on environmental responsibility. The benefits can go beyond environmental to include controlling costs and attracting like-minded customers. Following are some tips for reducing the environmental footprint of your business.

Photo of green leaf

On the shop floor, consider posting reminders that encourage environmentally conscious practices. For example, place signs at sinks to discourage improper disposal of process chemicals or hazardous waste. Keep covers on chemical containers to limit employees' exposure to vapors and to help lower volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.

Understand how products enter the waste stream. Does leftover material require special disposal or handling? Explore alternatives for the products you use most often – from inks to substrates and even cleaning products – to see if more sustainable options are available.

There may be opportunities for energy improvements and cost savings throughout your facility. Have an energy audit conducted at your facility to reveal leaks and flaws that, when fixed, consume less energy and save money. There are energy audit checklists available online, or you can hire a professional to conduct it. Often the local utilities offer this as a service. In addition, your local water utility may conduct a water audit at your facility to identify conservation opportunities.

If you find that you need to make upgrades to make your facility more energy efficient, there may be financial incentives available such as tax credits, tax deductions, sales tax exemptions, property tax exemptions and rebates.

Sustainability Programs and Resources
The Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) has developed a 4-step sustainability action plan to help you build a sustainability program for your business. You can get additional information on sustainability programs and resources from the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP), a non-profit organization that provides sustainability certification in the graphics communication industry. 3M is an SGP platinum patron.

Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) logo
3M is a platinum patron of the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP). SGP is a non-profit organization that provides sustainability certification in the graphics communication industry.

These are just a few ideas. To explore this topic further, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website to view its Green Business Guide, which includes green business practices, tips for energy efficiency, a Green Guide for New Businesses (which may also be helpful to well-established businesses), and information on environmental grants and loans.

For more information on graphic materials, visit or locate a 3M distributor.