Duggal Visual Solutions: 'Be the Change'

At a time most shops were hesitant to embrace sustainability, Duggal committed to becoming a leader in the eco-friendly print space.

In 2007, Heather Griffin, marketing director of Duggal Visual Solutions, sat down with the company’s owner to share ideas about doing things in a more eco-friendly way. At that time, Griffin says they recognized that there were lots of things that could be done but that people in the printing industry weren’t doing them, either because they were afraid it would ding their bottom line or they didn’t think clients would be interested. Instead of dragging their feet, Duggal – which offers printing, digital imaging, multimedia, wide-format graphics, and graphic display services – committed to changing their practices to become a more sustainable company. 

Duggal found a recycling firm with whom to partner and they have consistently recycled 80 to 90 percent of the waste in all six Duggal facilities in the last decade. They also partnered with manufacturers to launch green products that were high quality and didn’t cost twice as much, as was the case early on. Those substrates are now the go-to for Duggal, whenever possible. 

In 2008, Duggal installed a dozen Ultraflex Bioflex biodegradable vinyl billboards across New York. “It was a revolutionary thing for the printing industry at the time,” Griffin says.

Our message was ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ and our late founder, Baldev Duggal, was really passionate about that.

The company also added LED lighting in their facilities to save energy. Some customers were specifically asking what sustainable certifications Duggal carried, which made the decision to invest in certifications a little easier, Griffin says. After obtaining FSC certification, pursuing SGP was a natural next step. Employees were looped into the conversation to engage and educate on ways they could all participate in making an impact by reusing or recycling packaging and other materials. 

As time passed, more and more customers were seeking to brand themselves as green, especially Duggal’s clients in the fine art and retail industries. In some cases, going the eco route saves money for customers. For example, an LED lightbox for a retail store is shipped once (it can be reused) and lightweight rolled or folded graphics, such as textiles, are shipped instead of flat boards, which saves on shipping and materials. LED-backlit graphics also provide the customer energy savings over graphics illuminated with an incandescent spotlight.

After Hurricane Sandy wiped out the last remaining two printers using solvent inks and those printers were recycled for scrap metal, Duggal completed the conversion to low-VOC latex, UV, and water-based printing (the company has 31 wide-format printers), which supported a wider variety of substrate options, including textiles. “With vinyl, we switched a lot of clients to textiles and we found a lot of them were receptive to that. It’s lighter, crease-free, can be steamed, and can be folded up into a square and shipped rather than in a large tube,” Griffin explains. 

Yes, not all customers prioritize sustainability, and are instead driven by the bottom line or longevity of a product, depending on the application. But Duggal always presents the eco-friendly products as an option, Griffin says. The company’s efforts in environmental stewardship cost more, but they believe it’s a worthwhile endeavor, adds CEO Michael Duggal.

“We are proud to be able to offer our clients fully green solutions from printing on eco-friendly printers with VOC-free inks, to using eco-friendly materials that are in turn produced in our sustainable LEED gold facility, all while maintaining the highest quality standards our customers expect,” he says.

Read more from Big Picture's April 2018 "A Smaller Footprint" sustainability feature.

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