Thursday, January 15, 2009

An interview with Greg Barber, an environmental printer

"My name is Greg Barber and I specialize in environmental printing. " This is the first line on the homepage of Greg Barber Company, an eco-friendly printer and also the printer that prints Eco-Libris' stickers and flyers.

Greg is also one of the most experienced people in the area of green printing and we thought it would be very interesting to hear from him what does it mean to be an environmental printer and what's going on in this market. We weren't wrong. This interview is a great opportunity to get a glance of the growing market of environmental printing, which as you will see is becoming not only beneficial for the environment, but also for businesses' bottom line.

Hello Greg. You describe yourself as an environmental printer. Can you tell us what that means?

We are eco-friendly in our paper, inks, energy and our recycling of our waste. We specialize in printing on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper, rock paper, and tree free paper ,and we use soy based inks, for our offset printing, and 100% non toxic toner for our digital work. Our energy is primarily Wind energy, and the paper we stock comes from mills that get their energy from either Wind or BioGas.

How long have you been an environmental printer? how did you get into the business of eco-friendly printing?
I started at the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990. I saw middle school children celebrating Earth Day and I decided to join them by specializing in Environmental Printing.

Is it true that it's more expensive to print on recycled paper? if it is, what's the premium you currently need to pay for it?

This is the #1 question asked me. So much so, that I put that question on my website at the very top a link that says "Is Environmental Printing More Expensive?" My answer is it is not more expensive if you use the 100% PCW recycled paper from my firm.

Our paper is competitive to the minimum recycled paper or non recycled paper prices. We have a wide range of equipment to select the most effective press to keep the pricing competitive.
If you need a small run in 4 color, we will probably print digitally. We have 2 color up to 8 color offset equipment and web presses for the very large inquiries, and I partner with several plants, that are leaders in the environmental movement. My partners were hand picked by me for their environmental set up, their price structure, and their response to timing needed by my clients.

Why do you think so many publishers of paper-based products such as books, newspapers and magazines are not going green yet? is it the cost? availability? quality of paper? or another reason?

Magazines and newspapers use ground wood based paper and those sheets are much less expensive, and thus price is the reason. The paper mills we use sell higher quality recycled coated paper for the higher quality runs. Upscale fashion type magazines, brochures, annual reports, flyers, 4 color books etc, use the more expensive recycled coated and uncoated lines we carry.

Who are your customers and what is important for them when it comes to environmental printing?
We sell to upscale environmental entrepreneurs, ad agencies, graphic designers, and corporate clients. My website is listed #1 in Google and everyday I see clients from all walks of the business world. We print postcards for art galleries, greeting cards for start up companies, business cards for anyone.

I printed stationary, postcards, envelopes, greeting cards, etc, for an agency for Coca Cola, the VIP material needed at the Olympics in China, They selected mostly 100% PCW paper and soy inks.
The common denominator for our clients is using paper with the highest post-consumer waste content, the correct inks, no chlorine for bleaching our papers, and they like to know that we are FSC certified.

Also, most people like to know we have a wide range of paper to select from. Tree Free lines , such as Sugar Cane, Bamboo, Hemp, and paper made from fruit plants mixed
with PCW. We stock lemon, mango, coffee, and banana papers. We also have paper made from Rock & Minerals called Terraskin. And price. We remain competitive by selecting a few environmental grades we feel are the most environmental, and buying those papers in bulk. We save our clients a lot of money on the small to medium size runs, that can be expensive for most printers buying small lots of stock for the smaller jobs..

How is the economic slowdown influencing the green printing market?

We are in a tough market. Business is off and payments are slower. But, I feel environmental printers are not affected as much as non environmental printers. Green printing is important to our clients, and they don't want to go back to non recycled printing. My clients are mostly small to medium buyers of printing and they still need to advertise. The large printers that specialize in magazine or book work are hurt more, as advertising is off 50%.

What are the current trends (if any) you see in the market?

We see Direct Response, Personalized Printing going way up, and I am spending a lot of my time promoting this type of printing. Clients can track results and then decide if they should increase their budgets in this type of printing, especially when sales go up.

We own XMPIE, the software that can take a supplied excel spread sheet that has a lot of personal variables included in the columns, and create PURL'S, or Personal URL.
If I was on the mailing list, my postcard which has my name and my preference in the copy, and my own web link to go to. It might be www.gregbarber/ Once I go to that link, I might see a special offer from the client that is directly speaking to me. We find sales go up 500 percent with personalized PURL printing. You can test this on a 500 postcard print run, as we do personalized printing digitally. We can print 500 different postcards digitally, that change name, color of pictures, copy, and the personal links to visit.

You also started to publish books lately - can you tell us about it?
We print mostly 4 color books on 100% post-consumer waste paper. We find our clients like that we have no minimums and many times we print 100 books digitally to see if the books will sell, and then we can print the larger runs via offset. We did this for my first book, "How The Land Of Litter Became The Kingdom Of Clean". We printed 100, 6 x 9 size books, 48 pages plus cover, in 4 color on 70# Enviro Text and 100# Enviro Cover.

The test was a lot more per book than when we next went to 1000 books and then onto 5000 books. But, it's safer than to print 1000 books and not selling them. Land Of Litter is very popular and teaches kids that it does matter to be environmental.

Thank you Greg!

If you want to learn more about Greg's printing company and their green opreations, you're welcome to check out their website -

Raz @ Eco-Libris

1 comment:

azala said...

This is a great job you're doing for the environment! Congratulations!