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Sustainability in the Wide Format Industry

Over the last few years, one of the most discussed trends in the wide format signage and graphics printing market has been the push toward more sustainable or environmentally-friendly businesses and solutions. From energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs and expanded recycling programs to “green” media and printing processes, print service providers have a lot to consider when it comes to the decision on whether or not to implement sustainable solutions within their businesses. Signage and graphics printers are even more acutely impacted by sustainability initiatives because so much of the output is on substrates or gets mounted to substrates that are difficult and/or expensive to recycle.

Now that the wide format digital graphics printing market is recovering, InfoTrends believes the trend toward “green” wide format printing will see resurgence. In fact, we have identified it as one of our top trends in 2011. When asked in a recent survey, 45% of print service providers indicated that they were getting more customer requests for “green” printing, or printing using more environmentally-friendly practices. In response to customer demands, almost 50% of service providers indicated that they have or are going to take steps to produce wide format digital graphics in a more environmentally-friendlier way. Using “green” media was the top way in which print service providers are transforming print shops. This was followed by reductions in solvent based inks (in favor of UV, aqueous or latex), the reduction or elimination of waste material, developing a more robust recycling program, and buying energy from a different source (such as solar).

What types of changes have you made in your wide format print production practices to become more environmentally-friendly?

Equipment manufacturers and dealers are also taking note of the push towards “green” and are responding with new products that are engineered to enable more environmentally-friendly wide format printing. According to the survey, 59% of respondents are adding new inks, 53% are making media easier to recycle, and 37% are creating lighter weight substrates.

What types of products have you added?

As the economy continues to rebound the corporate purse strings will loosen and sustainability will become a hot topic once again. InfoTrends expects major retailers and important brands to adopt sustainable signage and graphics sourcing policies through 2011. This will further drive the green printing trend in the wide format digital printing market.

The bottom line? Environmental sustainability is not going away. Now is the time to make sure your business is practicing and promoting green strategies. The development of industry standards and meaningful sustainable branding is imperative, or there is a risk that some suppliers could simply brand their products as “green” without any kind of objective certification, a practice some refer to as “green-washing”.

The preceding was an excerpt from InfoTrends recently released Q4 Wide Format Market Survey. This executive style presentation illustrates the findings from a fourth quarter market research study asking stakeholders in the wide format market about their 2010 business and outlook in 2011. In addition to asking about sustainability other insights are provided about the use of variable data, QR codes, and digital signage. For more information or to make a purchase, please visit our online store. Clients of InfoTrends’ Wide Format Printing Service can view the presentation today by visiting


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