BIG INK, Small Footprints
Large-format printer BIG INK Display Graphics is committed to offering eco-friendly products and processes.
If you've been to a professional Minnesota sporting event recently, chances are you've seen the work of large format printing company BIG INK Design Graphics. The Eagan-based business prints the dasher boards that grace the Minnesota Wild hockey rink at Xcel Energy Center, and
was the name behind the Metrodome's gigantic broken-bat banner out in right field, a 2009 advertisement for the Dodge Nitro SUV that measured 180 feet wide by 19 feet tall.
Thomas Trutna, company president, says BIG INK can print nearly anything its customers dream up. "The sky's the limit," he says. "Anything under two inches thick that can lay flat, we can print to: plywood, metal, glass. People come up with all kinds of new product ideas
and want us to prototype them."
Along with such cutting-edge capabilities, BIG INK also is a leader in environmental sustainability efforts. Trutna says he was inspired to go green in 2007 after attending an industry seminar presentation by a company based in Portland, Ore., that was similar to his. "It
was significantly ahead of us from a green standpoint," he says. "Company leaders had ... found a way to repurpose or recycle virtually everything in their shop. That was really a wake-up call for me."
BIG INK started small by adding recycling bins next to wastebaskets and asking employees to be conscious of paper use. Recycling of plastic scraps followed. "For years, we were throwing away tons of scrap plastic," Trutna says. "I found that not only do people want it,
people will pay me for it. For us, it's certainly the right thing to do, but it's also the right business thing to do."
BIG INK pays to have half of its plastic waste recycled and receives payment for the other half, which zeroes out the recycling cost while reducing the company's overall waste bill. Since its move to a new facility in November 2009, BIG INK has realized a host of additional
environmentally savvy improvements, including the installation of Energy Star heating, cooling and lighting systems throughout the building, and a white roof, which helps keep the building cool during hot summer days.
BIG INK also strives to help its customers reach their own environmental goals, offering an eco-friendly option for nearly every traditional product it sells, from low-VOC inks to papers with a high post-consumer recycled content. It also offers the first 100-percent-recycled
fabric banners on the market that also are biodegradable. Once customers are finished with their printed materials, they can return them to BIG INK for proper recycling.
To date, about 20 percent of customers choose the eco-friendly alternatives--up from approximately 10 percent in 2008. Trutna says he is proud to offer both traditional and eco-friendly options. "Some of the eco products may be more expensive, or the images may not pop as
brightly on some of the materials, so there are pros and cons to everything," he says. "What I really want to bring to our customers is an education. I want to make sure that everybody here is educated enough [about the options] to help a customer make the choice that is right