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College Park company trying to be friend of the environment

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Tri-C Printing in College Park is the latest local company to join the "green" revolution in an effort to improve the environment.

For the last year and a half, the company's leaders have been trying to find ways to use more environmentally friendly methods, ranging from the way products are made in the print shop, to how paper can be used more efficiently, to conserving energy in the work place.

As Earth Day was celebrated this week, Tri-C Founder Bill Cole said he believes a "green" approach to the work place will ultimately become the standard for the printing industry.

"People will eventually start basing their decisions about who will print their products on whether or not a company is 'Green Certified,'" Cole said.

The company switched from a traditional ink, to a soy-based ink last year. The old ink contained heavy amounts of chemicals which the federal government's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined were not safe enough to come into contact with food items.

The soy-based ink is safer, because it contains smaller amounts of those chemicals, Cole said. Restaurants make up roughly 48 percent of Tri-C's 2,200 clients, he added.

The company is also re-using paper as often as possible before sending it to a recycling plant. Cole said a product has to be printed roughly 15 times before the printing press gets the images right. The company takes the first 15 prints from a product, and re-uses them for the early prints of the next four or five jobs, in an effort to use less paper.

Pieces of paper which have already been printed on, are also re-used by Tri-C employees as scrap paper before going into recycling bins.

The company has developed ways to conserve energy while also cutting utility costs, Cole said.

Employees even found a way to address the issue of a gap in the docking bay door. The door leaves a one-inch gap above the floor so it can be opened. "When the winter sets in, we get a ton of cold air coming in the building through that gap, and hot air comes in during the summer months, resulting in high heating and cooling costs," Cole said. "We came up with a cover which goes over the gap, and eliminates the air problem."

Employees have also chosen to not replace some light bulbs, which are not needed anyway, because the light fixtures are either too close to other light fixtures, or near sources of natural light. The employees now only use essential light sources, rather than having a brightly lit workplace.

"Our utility bills were reduced by 18 percent," Cole said.

Cole has more ideas about how his company can continue to "go green" in the future. He is working on encouraging his employees to start carpooling to work everyday. He also is contemplating putting motion sensors in each room. The sensors would control the lights in each room so they only come on when someone is in the room.

Cole also considered having the toilets in Tri-C's bathrooms replaced with new toilets that have automatic flushing sensors on them. He said it's unlikely he will make the change, however, because his company's office is rented space in an office park.

Some of the employees have learned new ways to preserve the environment through the company's efforts to go green. Mike Harris, Tri-C's customer service manager, said he's learned how to reuse paper, and what the benefits are to "Mother Nature."

"It's better for the environment, which is always a good thing," Harris said.