Dear Sir or Madam, or Dear Laurel the emails from PR companies begin. Then follows a boast of one kind or another. It could be an installation story, a case study, some new technology or information, news about presence at a trade show, or a positive environmental achievement. Whatever it is, the story always bigs up the accomplishments of some supplier or other player in the graphic arts, IT and related industries. This is what PR is all about, but sadly the environmental boasts are relatively few and far between. This has to change if the graphic arts industry is to maintain its sustainability messaging and keep encouraging market awareness.
Environmental messaging is difficult because environmental impact is not really seen as an easy topic for communication. It can be hard to get to grips with because environmental achievements need to be appreciated in technical, social and economic contexts. This isn’t a problem for companies who get it, such as those supporting the Verdigris project, but it can be a difficult conversation for those who don’t get it.
Companies often feel compelled to send out press releases, so why not look at environmental topics? A change in thinking could help make a difference to printing and publishing’s environmental impacts, especially at local level. It might also encourage companies in different geographies to follow the example of their peers in other parts of the world.
Here are a couple of for instances: we were told last week that each Italian citizen collected for recycling an average of 48.9 kg of paper and board in 2012. Do you know what the figure is for your country? Nor I. The press release added that in 2012 the Italians recycled an astonishing 84.5 % of paper and board packaging, and that in Italy the net amount of community benefits derived from separate paper and board collection between 1999 and 2012 is €4.3 billion which is an awful lot of money. There is more detail here: http://www.comieco.org/about-comieco/publications/news/paper-and-board-c...
The second example is the WWF’s recognition of Denmark for its inspiring leadership on climate and energy policies. The country has committed to derive 100% of its energy from renewable sources across the entire economy by 2050. This is a massive undertaking, even though Denmark is already well-endowed with renewables. The WWF has given its Gift to the Earth prize, its most prestigious award for governments and organisations, to Denmark describing Denmark as “the lighthouse we need to show that change is possible”.
This is the sort of environmental news we should be getting for the graphic arts industry. Facts and figures about positive environmental impacts, from technology through to case studies, local initiatives and ideas for change. With more positive environmental impact stories floating around on the web, print buyers and consumers might just be less inclined to believe the myth that printing is a dying industry.
– Laurel Brunner