warrens waterless printing

What Makes Waterless Printing So Eco-Friendly?

Green printing used to mean your printer just used recycled paper for your business cards or brochures. Eco-savvy printers are now taking it much further—as we learned this month when we spoke with Glen Warren, Vice President at Warren’s Waterless printing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Parvati Magazine: What is waterless printing and why is it good for the environment?

Glen Warren: Waterless printing is a method of offset printing that completely eliminates the use of both water and chemical dampening solutions. Conventional offset printing is based on the chemical properties of oil and water. In short, they don’t mix. On a flat surface like an offset printing plate, you can designate image areas that accept ink (and transfer the ink to a blanket and then to printing paper) and non-image areas that repel ink. You do this by carefully maintaining a precise ink/water balance on the press.

Waterless offset eliminates water from the chemical equation. It turns the printing process from a chemical balancing act (ink vs. water) to a mechanical process that can be more precisely controlled by using printing plates without the use of any water and chemical additives. With the waterless process we don’t just reduce the amount of water used but completely eliminate the use of it as we also internally recycle the water we wash the presses with.

Additionally, conventional offset printing requires solvent-based press and blanket wash solutions leading to VOC emissions, a significant environmental challenge. We use water-washable inks enabling us to also eliminate the emission of any harmful VOCs into the air.

PMAG: How much less water are you using each year, compared to standard offset printing?

GW: A conventional 40” printing press can produce up to 80,000 litres of contaminated wastewater effluent per year where a waterless press produces zero. At Warren’s we are conserving approximately 200,000 litres of water annually.

PMAG: What has given Warren’s this dedication to the environment and green printing and how did you come to choose waterless printing as the foundation for your business?

GW: With the world facing serious water shortages by the year 2025, over half the world’s population could be living with serious water shortages. We believe passionately that it’s up to each of us to save this resource. Warren’s embraced the waterless process to be environmentally responsible and from the business perspective it allows us to be different than the norm and not be like every other printing company. With the elimination of the water and chemicals our inks don’t blot into the paper as badly as conventional printing allowing us to run much higher line screens and higher colour density which gives a much higher quality of print in the final product.

PMAG: Adoption of waterless printing technology in North America has been slow, with Warren’s still Canada’s only dedicated waterless printer. What do you think needs to happen to increase demand for waterless printing in North America and worldwide?

GW: It is hard to say why waterless printing has not yet taken off in North America. It may have to do with general environmental awareness. In countries that are more aware of water as a limited resource, such as Japan, the Scandinavian countries and many countries in Europe, waterless printing is more common and growing more rapidly as the environmental and water conservation advantages are so clear.

PMAG: You have been a generous supporter of MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. Why is MAPS important to you?

GW: Warren’s is a supporter of MAPS as well as several other environmentally minded organizations because we feel that it is important to our environment to support like-minded organizations.

PMAG: What else would you like to share with our readers?

GW: The one thing that we would like to express to your readers is that using ECO friendly services does not mean more cost. Our process is the same price as any conventional print service. As our president Larry Warren says, “Our waterless printing process provides superior clarity and depth on both coated and uncoated stocks, without impacting the environment and at no extra cost. Now that’s win win.”

Glen Warren, Warren's Waterless Printing, green printing, waterless printing

Glen Warren has been an instrumental part of Warren’s Waterless Printing success. Voted one the most influential graphic arts professionals in Canada, he strives to lead a top printing and graphics company with the environment front and centre.