Every time we go to a trade show it seems the amount of greenwash sloshing about gets thicker and sloppier. And although it might not seem so, this is a good thing. It’s good because it reflects suppliers’ and manufacturers’ awareness that they need to be green to be seen. They may not understand what being green really means, but at least they know it matters to their customers. There is another reason why greenwash is good: plenty of genuinely great green initiatives are floating about in the mix.
At Fespa 2013 which took place in London last week, the greenwash was flowing thick and fast. Ink manufacturers take note: if you product contravenes the REACH regulations it is not environmentally benign, no matter how smart your green branding is and no matter how much you want to believe your own rhetoric. The same applies for materials suppliers who need to watch what they claim, particularly for the recyclability of banner materials. Spouting ignorant rubbish puts a company on a slippery slope that leads to loss of customer confidence and trust. Far better to know your facts, ’fess up and focus on what you are doing to fix the problem.
There was plenty of green gold amidst the dross. Several printers in Fespa 2013 seminar sessions described how their commitment to the environment and sustainability is growing their businesses. Sustainability alone obviously isn’t enough but when it is coupled with sound business management and an eye to the bottom line, it’s an absolute winner. All else being equal, customers willingly opt for the sustainable choice, because it makes sense.
Many new large format digital printers were launched at the show and an awful lot of them were promoted on the basis of their reduced environmental impact. The Agfa UV inks which have no VOCs and cure more quickly than latex inks, the KIP C7800 dry toner machine 80% of which is recycled, HP’s Latex 3000 monster which doesn’t need extraction fans, Caldera’s in-RIP carbon calculator, are just a few of the many new ideas being touted. Some are more ambitious than others but all are indicators of progress towards a more sustainable industry. Across the huge diversity of the printing industry people are taking loads of tiny little steps towards improving their business and environmental sustainability. In isolation none of them may be particularly compelling but taken as a whole, the print industry is moving forward at a healthy clip towards greater sustainability for business and for the environment.
– Laurel Brunner