April 23, 2014

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The Environment
» Augusto 'Gus' Casamayor

Augusto Casamayor
One of Gus Casamayor's side projects involves an effort to help reforest Haiti. He also gives presentations around Florida to children on good environmental practices, using cartoons and slide shows. [Photo: Daniel Portnoy]
In April, Augusto "Gus" Casamayor was traveling in El Salvador presenting a seminar at the Spanish Cultural Center. Casamayor's topic was green business; in addition to owning and operating AC Graphics, a printing firm in Hialeah, he also runs a foundation, Certified Green Partners, that educates businesses and certifies them if they adopt environmentally sound practices.

After the seminar, an executive at the local Alas Doradas paper mill asked him to help Alas Doradas. Wal-Mart of El Salvador had just expanded into the area and was firing vendors that didn't comply with Wal-Mart's insistence on selling recycled paper products and other green practices. Ultimately, the mill got its Green Partners certification and saved the Wal-Mart account.

Certified Green Partners is piling up success stories like that one: This year, it passed the 100-milestone in the number of firms and government entities it has certified, which include the city of Hialeah and Monsignor Pace High School. In April, Casamayor, 62, was recognized with a Point of Light award from Gov. Charlie Crist for his "compassion for the planet."

The third generation of his family to work in the printing business, Casamayor became aware about three years ago that his industry is one of the least environmentally friendly business sectors. Through paper consumption, it contributes to both pollution and deforestation; in addition, most printers use petroleum-based inks, and too few recycle their waste paper. In response, Casamayor completely changed his own business operations, using only paper produced from sustainable forests and only vegetable-based inks and became the first printer in the U.S. certified by four domestic and international environmental practices organizations. And he started Certified Green Partners to spread the environmental message — first to other printers and then more broadly.

Certification starts with how a business, school or office consumes paper and ink and goes on to encompass extensive waste-reduction and recycling strategies. An independent accountant must audit the business to ensure that practices are in place before Certified Green Partners will issue the certification. Cost begins at $500, Casamayor says.

A point of pride for Casamayor is that green practices save money. "Pace High School is saving more than $20,000 a year," he says. "A day care I'm working with saved about $4,000." Even other printers skeptical about the costs of vegetable-based inks and certified paper have become believers, he says. "I save them money every time."
— Mark Howard

Go to LinksLinks: Watch a Certified Green Partners video.

Tags: Politics & Law, Dining & Travel, Agriculture, Banking & Finance, Business Services, Education, Energy & Utilities, Environment, Government/Politics & Law, Healthcare, Housing/Construction

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