Green Rollout

Posted on Jun 1, 2010 :: Green Business
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Heartland Label Printers, Appleton find strong interest in BPA-free products

It’s no secret consumers are seeking out more “green” products. Being more environmentally friendly also carries over to the workplace as more companies seek out “greener” products. This trend – and it will only continue to grow now that the federal government requires its offices to purchase environmentally friendly products – is good news for New North companies who manufacture green office supplies.

Heartland Label Printers Inc. in Little Chute has seen the demand for its BPA-free receipt paper skyrocket in the past year as more people are aware of the potential danger of the chemical, says Dave Blum, vice president of paper for Heartland Label Printers.

“It’s interesting. Fifteen years ago, people tried to sell ‘green’ products, but it didn’t really go anywhere. Now more companies want to be ‘green’ and are even willing to pay more to have something that’s made from recycled paper or doesn’t have BPA in it,” he says.
BPA – which stands for bisphenol-A – is used to make hard, clear plastic in thousands of products. Scientists say when the chemical is heated, it can leach into the surrounding area. Federal regulators are giving BPA a close look after environmental and health advocates raised concerns that the chemical is hazardous to humans.

The papermaker Appleton stopped using BPA in its thermal receipt paper in 2006 because the company felt it “was the right thing to do,” says Bill Van Den Brandt, Appleton’s manager of corporate communications. Today, the company – which doesn’t use BPA in any of its products – is definitely seeing more interest in its products because of what it doesn’t contain.

“We wanted to eliminate any questions people may have about any products used in our thermal receipt paper,” Van Den Brandt says. “We found for some customers that being BPA-free is a definite advantage.”

Appleton chemists were able to work with thermal paper, which is a special fine paper with a chemical on it that changes color when exposed to heat and is used in cash registers and credit card terminals, to come up with a formula that provided what customers needed without the BPA, Van Den Brandt says.

Appleton uses a special code on its thermal papers so the purchaser knows it’s BPA-free. That’s an advantage to companies like Heartland that can then go to its clients and offer something that doesn’t contain BPA.

“The interest out there for BPA-free products is really spreading. We had one large grocery store chain come to us and say they wanted receipt paper without BPA. Because of the relationship with Appleton, we were able to provide that,” Blum says.

In addition to providing BPA-free products, Appleton also produces carbonless paper products that have an environmentally-friendly capsule system that uses vegetable oil rather than a typical solvent.

“We started doing that 10 years ago, but as more people show concern for the environment, it’s become a more important part of their buying decision,” Van Den Brandt says. “We began the green initiatives to decrease our carbon footprint because that’s what we wanted to do as a company.

That it has become a differentiator for us as a business and increased our volume is definitely a benefit.”

All of Appleton’s facilities, including its manufacturing plant and labs, are ISO:14001 certified, which provides requirements for environmental management systems. Having that associated with the company is a sign to other businesses that the company is serious about its green initiatives, Van Den Brandt says.

Heartland Label’s commitment to the environment goes beyond its use of the BPA-free paper in its receipts.

The company “has gone green internally and all of its waste goes to a company that turns them into fuel pellets,” Blum says. “Because we do that, 1,000 fewer tons of coal are needed each year for electricity. I definitely think those kind of actions show clients our commitment to the environment.”