As members of an ISO technical committee we are not allowed to share detailed data on standards uptake. However we can share the fact that response to ISO 16759 for quantifying and calculating the carbon footprint of print media has been astonishing and far beyond our expectations. Strong sales for this standard suggest that printers and print buyers are indeed anxious to understand how to account for carbon footprints. ISO 16759 is the only means of benchmarking carbon calculators and providing some mechanism for their quality control. However it can provide a quality control check for any sort of print media carbon footprint calculator.
The interest in ISO 16759 is definitely real. At a recent conference of the Nordic Offset Printers Association in Oslo a presentation on how cutting carbon cuts costs prompted several printers to ask how they could get a hold of ISO 16759. They are interested to compare how their carbon calculators stack up and are even considering certification. These printers offer their carbon calculators online to publishers and print buyers to help them decide volumes, substrates and printing methods for their print jobs. In Scandinavia environmental awareness has long been in the van of the rest of the printing industry, however the keen interest we saw in Oslo for tools such as ISO 16759 is really amazing. If this enthusiasm is spreading throughout the industry, the environmental impact of print is surely improving.
There are promising opportunities for printers in other markets too. For instance in the UK, the top one hundred publicly traded companies are now required to report their carbon footprint which will obviously impact their supply chains. The legislation came in as part of the UK’s efforts to reduce GHG emissions by 80% by 2050, compared to
1990 levels. The European Union is working on something similar that will extend to supply chains. Printers offering print media carbon footprint calculation services in addition to prepress, print and finishing, substantially strengthen their service offering. And they provide data that can be used to fulfil regulatory requirements which has considerable value to clients. Regulation of the sort operating in the UK could become increasingly common as countries strive to meet international targets, which may explain ISO 16759’s popularity.
Accounting for carbon footprints is still far from a legal requirement in most markets, but that could change particularly in developed markets. In the meantime standards such as ISO 16759 and ISO 14001 provide printers and publishers with a useful operational framework.
– Laurel Brunner