Direct Mail
April 21, 2020 | by Paul Fillmore




When you’ve worked in print production long enough, the cyclical nature of the business becomes apparent. Colors, paper finish, coatings, finishing techniques — they all come and go like the seasons. Blue is in this fall; next year it’s coral. High gloss triple coated papers are all the rage — then it switches to soft mattes or smooth uncoated natural finishes.

What remains constant? Getting the most print per dollar out of your marketing budget while maintaining relevance to the end user and making sure your story gets told.

Sustainability is no different. The desire for sustainability waxes and wanes in the print marketplace. When budgets compress, the value add of sustainability reveals an opportunity to reduce cost. Later, consumer expectations rise for brands to do more than pump out products for consumption. Sustainability makes its 117th comeback.


The concept has been around for a long time — the idea that one can utilize waste from producing print for a client and use that subsequent waste in the manufacture of new paper for the next print run. With mass consolidation on the pulp, recycling, and mill side, there typically has not been a desire to investigate options integrating a “Closed Loop” solution.

However, with demand in print becoming more specialized by leveraging the power of data and digital print to deliver highly targeted messages and stories to the end user, the opportunity for convergence presents itself.

Mohawk Paper Mills and Whole Foods Market design a closed loop solution for Whole Foods’ Earth Month campaign.

20,000 pounds of third-generation 100% post-consumer waste paper were used for the Earth Month materials, creating an environmental savings equal to:

192 trees preserved for future use
554.42 pounds of waterborne waste not created
81,557 gallons of wastewater flow saved
9,024 pounds of solid waste not generated
17,768 pounds of greenhouse gases prevented
136,000,000 BTUs energy not consumed

Because Mohawk manufactured the paper with wind-generated electricity, an additional impact was created: 9,232 pounds of air emissions were not generated (which means that 4 barrels of crude oil were not used) and the savings was equal to not driving 10,000 miles or planting 624 trees.

In sum, it’s a fantastic story that can be told both above and beyond the product level. With the return of more 100% recycled papers to the marketplace, more opportunities for processes like Closed Loop are now available. With smaller runs, we find cost per piece can be managed with respect to response rate.

Not only are Closed Loop and other sustainable initiatives a great fit for targeting a more socially- and environmentally-conscious consumer base, it’s also the right thing to do.

If you’re interested in incorporating sustainability or closed loop into your next print project, or are just curious about FSC® or recycled paper options, get in touch.

Contact Us

Paul Fillmore is Supply Chain Manager at Quantum Group and has over 20 years of printing industry experience. Paul’s specialization is in sheetfed printing and he has master level experience in litho and digital print production, estimating, planning, purchasing, and process engineering.

← back to blog