As drupa winds its way to a grateful close we have been struck by the sheer enormity of the task facing the printing industry, when it comes to reduced environmental impact. If it’s true (and we reckon it is) that climate change can only be mitigated by a reduction of worldwide greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions, our industry must do more. If for no other reason than because print is central to our communications models and print is an important dimension for every other business. Our industry cuts across all industrial, commercial and social sectors, which means print is well placed to lead progress in reduced environmental impacts. But it isn’t that simple.
This idea of leadership was one of the topics we discussed in the Eco Leadership Forum HP hosted at drupa last week. It is a tricky topic because even though the industry understands the importance of contributing to impact reduction, there is no single entity leading the charge. EcoPrint, taking place in Berlin on the 26th and 27th September might take on that role. This is the only industry event dedicated to exploring the environmental impact of print, so once the event concludes we might find that we have a point of leadership focus.
The alternative to a single leadership entity is to develop the industry’s environmental awareness at grass roots level. This can only happen if at local level, the environmental agenda is addressed regularly and as noisily as possible within local markets and industry sectors. This means frequent communications by industry associations with their members. It means sharing facts and ideas, and providing information resources that members can reference and use in conversations with customers. This takes a commitment that it seems too few industry associations are willing to make. Perhaps the knowledge learning curve is just too steep. or perhaps industry associations believe that there are other more serious problems facing our industry. Or perhaps it is because the industry associations don’t fully appreciate the seriousness of the threats facing the printing industry.
It takes an entrepreneur’s courage to set up an event like EcoPrint. It is a marvellous and unique initiative in that it is dedicated exclusively to the environmental impact of print. Treading into unknown territory like this is indeed risky, but EcoPrint is our industry’s best hope for developing knowledge and sharing the ideas that can help our industry to take the lead for the industries it serves. And this is the printing industry’s best hope for a sustainable future, both environmentally and commercially.
– Laurel Brunner