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Quad has always been committed to being a more sustainable business. Our journey has taken on new momentum as environmental narratives and needs change.

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Our approach

We have always believed that what is good for the environment is good for business. We know that for Quad to continue to thrive in the future, we must take responsibility for our actions, including the upstream and downstream impacts on stakeholders throughout our value chain. To this end, we challenge ourselves to create a better way by conserving raw materials, reducing waste and energy use, sharing knowledge, and leveraging regenerative solutions across our discipline-led integrated marketing platform.

We are talking with clients and investing in what we truly believe supports their environmental goals.

Natalie Hahlen
Director of Environmental Health & Safety

Environmental SDG Commitments

Quad’s environmental efforts most closely link to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets. We use these goals to create a better way for our shared planet.

Our sustainable journey

Operating sustainably has long been an integral part of our purpose. Accordingly, Quad has been recognized as a leading environmental advocate and innovator.

Responsible materials

Clients expect us to make their printed products and packaging more sustainable. We choose our suppliers with care, look for reliable chains of custody in our suppliers, and challenge ourselves to discover more sustainable materials and responsible sources.

Certified forest products

By printing with certified forest products, Quad is making a positive choice that helps safeguard the environment and the future of sustainable print.

  • Quad has partnered with its clients to increase certified paper usage to 80% as of June 30, 2022 — up from 77% in 2021. 
  • Quad was one of the first printers to be triple chain-of-custody certified for sourcing materials from responsibly managed forests by the three leading forest certification programs: FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®), SFI® (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) and the PEFC™ (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). Quad partners with paper producers in low-risk forestry areas such as North America and Western Europe.
  • The paper mills from which Quad purchases paper for its U.S. printing operations do not use elemental chlorine, and we require all mill partners to comply with local laws with respect to their wood fiber sourcing, including the requirements of the U.S. Lacey Act for harvesting timber.

EnviroTech™ bio-based inks

In 1991, our own ink manufacturing division, Chemical Research\Technology (CR\T), developed EnviroTech™ inks.

  • For the heatset web offset printing process, our inks contain approximately 25% renewable resource content from ingredients such as pine and linseed oils, far exceeding the 7% industry standard of soy-based ink. 
  • For the rotogravure process, our inks contain approximately 23% renewable resource content from tall oil resin. 
  • Quad is one of the largest ink manufacturers in the nation, and the only printer that produces its own ink. We are bringing more responsible technologies to the industry.

Recycling, reusing, reducing

Quad reclaims materials and diverts them from landfills through industrial and office recycling programs. We strive to improve our sorting practices, recycling rates and employee education across our U.S. footprint.

Recycling operations

Due to our large-scale printing operations, we generate a significant amount of paper trim waste. This wastepaper is collected, shredded and baled by grade, then sent out for recycling.

  • In 2021, we achieved a 98.9% recycling rate for wastepaper along with other general waste (like office paper and plastic water bottles) across all U.S. facilities. 
  • Color-coded recycling containers have been placed at the machine level to quickly capture industrial recyclables. 
  • Most trash containers have been replaced with clearly labeled containers for different types of recyclables. 
  • In 2021, we turned to our waste disposal company to perform an audit on waste from our Wisconsin facilities, which helped identify a mix of materials that could have been diverted for recycling. These findings will be used to further improve our recycling practices.

Regenerative energy

The mark of regenerative thinking is upending the way we historically view waste and emissions to transform them into sources for supplemental energy.

  • Waste to energy: Quad implemented a waste-to-energy program in the early 2000s to keep any materials soaked with non-hazardous chemicals out of landfills. Materials are placed in containers and sent to a waste-to-energy solutions provider for burning in an incinerator that generates electricity. 
  • Emissions into energy: Our web offset presses are equipped with dryers that collect volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chemical compounds that impact indoor and outdoor air quality and have adverse health effects. The technology turns these emissions into fuel, supplementing our natural gas usage.

Replacing or reusing plastics

The use and disposal of plastics is an increasing environmental concern. At Quad:

  • Industrial plastic waste is recovered and resold to specialized industrial recyclers for use in recycled-content plastics. 
  • Clients are offered paper wrap or new biofilms, providing more renewable alternatives for their products.

Reducing hazardous wastes

Quad manages hazardous waste from the time it is generated through disposal. We have rigorous processes in place for identifying, segregating, containerizing, labeling, storing, shipping and disposing of hazardous waste.

  • In 2021, we shipped approximately 0.42 pounds of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) federally regulated hazardous waste per 1 million pages printed. This is a decrease from 0.73 pounds in 2020 and reflects the closure of three plants which were not as efficient.

Energy & emissions

We know greenhouse gases are a leading cause of climate change, and we are working to reduce emissions from our operations. Our most effective method: lowering Quad’s energy intensity across our enterprise. Through ongoing energy management programs, spanning nearly two decades, we have made contributions to lowering our energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gases.

How we calculate emissions

Quad uses a carbon footprint calculator to identify the amount of emissions related to key company activities. This allows for conscious management and reduction efforts.

  • We calculate Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon dioxide equivalent emissions using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change greenhouse gas methodology, and emissions factors from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership — Emissions Factors for Calculating Greenhouse Gas Inventories. All emissions data are verified by an independent third-party. 
  • In 2021, Quad emitted 0.603 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions per 1 million pages produced in the United States -- an improvement from 0.632 metric tons in 2020.

Department of Energy partnerships

From the beginning, we have realized environmental challenges cannot be tackled in isolation. Our industry partnerships and collaborations with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) show how we are working together on a national scale to create a better way.

  • Better Plants Program: Quad is proud to be a founding partner of the Better Plants program, established by the U.S. DOE in 2009, to improve energy efficiency and competitiveness in the industrial sector. In March 2020, we renewed our commitment to energy conservation with a pledge to reduce energy intensity by 20% through 2029. 
  • 50001 Ready Energy Management: Quad's Hartford, Sussex and West Allis, Wis., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., plants are recognized by the U.S. DOE for having a 50001 Ready energy management system through creating sound energy policies, establishing objectives, and building structure improvements to generate deep, sustained energy savings.

Energy-efficient technologies

Retiring old equipment and investing in efficient next-generation alternatives are proving to be one of our most effective strategies for reducing energy consumption.

  • High-speed, high-output printing presses were installed at our Saratoga Springs, N.Y., plant in 2021 and our Sussex, Wis., plant in 2019. These presses use 41% less electricity and 33% less gas per printed page compared to older presses. 
  • Five plants adopted a new method for prepping printing plates, cutting CO emissions in 2020 by roughly 1,270 metric tons at the five plants (Hartford, Lomira, Sussex and West Allis, Wis., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y). This reduction was expected to total 2,100 metric tons in 2021.

Forests in focus

In 2019, Quad joined other leading brands that share our passion for sustainability as a founding member of Forests in Focus. Developed by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and the American Forest Foundation, Forests in Focus offers the first landscape level assessment of U.S. timberlands, which gives brands reliable data on sustainability risks that may be present in the forests where they source fiber. Through the Forests in Focus online platform, users gain visibility into the forested landscapes surrounding U.S. virgin fiber mills. Members can also access data on land use change, forest carbon, imperiled species and ecosystems, genetically modified (GMO) trees and illegal harvesting risks in those regions.

Earth & education

Our collaboration with Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in southeastern Wisconsin creates awareness of sustainability’s importance in daily life with young learners.

Need For Trees (4th - 7th Graders)

This action-oriented outreach program includes live birds of prey and reptile presentations, and a pine seedling packaged in a recyclable carton called TICCIT (Trees Into Cartons, Cartons Into Trees).

Trees Are Treasures (Kindergarten - 2nd Graders)

This program for younger learners features science-based supplemental kits designed and packed by our Packaging division.

Take-Home Modules (Kindergarten - 2nd Graders)

Our shared environmental mission continues in the face of new demands, especially during the pandemic. Quad assembled environmental science and literacy modules for parents, teachers and other organizations.

Awards & recognition

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