How to Make Printed Training Materials Environmentally Friendly

Insights How to Make Printed Training Materials Environmentally Friendly

We are often asked how we can make the printed training materials more environmentally friendly and so here are our top recommendations

Avoid Ring Binders

Generally ring binders are made from a combination of plastics including vinyl and PVC – neither of which can be recycled easily. Paper over board binders are available but are expensive if the binder is to be branded in any way.

Avoid Perfect Binding

Although perfect binding can often be done with hot wax (the method PDI uses) rather than PUR – unless the binding is trimmed off the wax needs to be removed from the pulp during the recycling process and many companies will just discard perfect bound books.

Bind by Wire

Either as a wiro bound manual or as a saddle stitch book – the wire can be removed and can itself be recycled.

Avoid Acetate Covers

Acetate (clear or frosted) adds a really professional look to a wiro book – it is unfortunately not recyclable. Think about using card covers and backs. If you like the frosted acetate look there is a semi-translucent paper equivalent which is fully biodegradable.

Recycled Paper

Many arguments about this but most agree that a virgin paper from sustainable PFC forests is more environmentally friendly then recycled paper (see our full blog at Is Recycled Environmentally Friendly. PDI has chosen to use sustainable PFC paper as a matter of routine but we will print on recycled if that is your preference.


Outer cardboard cases are fine both recyclable and often with a high recycled content.

Shrink wrapping could be avoided since it does keep the product in good condition whilst in transport but invariably is never recycled.

Filler packaging is the other major issue to which PDI is looking into alternatives.

We have in the past used a polystyrene chip filler or at least a biodegradable starch based alternative. However, we have had complaints that this goes everywhere in the training room and is difficult to handle. ‘Biodegradable’ bubble wrap is available but there are those that say this is not truly biodegradable in normal landfill and is a very expensive ‘greenwash’.

We are still looking for the best solution and will be trialling different options in the near future but would welcome customer input.

Biodegradable Pens

If you send a branded pen out with your materials we have found a ‘plastic’ ball pen which is actually made using a starch based product based on sugar cane. It is  more expensive (isn’t it always) but does mean the pen is biodegradable