Sustainability is entering business peoples’ consciousnesses in such a way that they actually invest in it. The environment is slowly rising up the agendas of print service providers and suppliers alike, but it has to be said that the graphics industry has tended more to the green washing than the actual greening end of the spectrum of environmental initiatives. But recently we have seen more organisations investing in environmental sustainability. It’s not just good for the planet, ideally it is good for business. How well these ideas are implemented gives a measure of their commitment. Some are more ambitious than others.
Epson, the Japanese developer and manufacturer of wide format digital printers and other electronic kit, has recently published the results of a global survey, The Climate Reality Barometer survey. It highlights some worrying findings. https://global.epson.com/newsroom/2021/news_20210910.html
Industry associations have a major part to play in driving standardisation and environmental impact improvement. It’s not an easy role to play, given that sustainability comes in many shapes and sizes, just as printing and publishing companies do. Some associations, such as FOGRA in Germany are incredibly active and engaged, working intimately with their members and able to monetise their services effectively. They offer advice and audits to confirm a printing company’s ability to output prints that meet ISO 12647-2 process control and quality assurance targets and other services. In the USA, Idealliance has set up it’s G7 certification program doing much the same thing. In the UK the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) has a similar scheme offering ISO 12647-2 compliance.
The ideas behind the Circular Economy aren’t much talked about in the grass roots printing business, but some of the principles are starting to creep into conversations. Three main objectives underpin a circular economy: design products to eliminate waste and pollution; keep products and materials in use for as long as possible; and support the regeneration of natural systems. It might be by accident but changes to how print media products are designed and produced, are bringing our industry into closer alignment with Circular Economy principles.
Almost every day another consulting group starts touting to help printing companies become more environmentally accountable. Offerings range from some sort of sustainability scheme or service, to overpriced environmental consulting. There’s a bandwagon cranking up and lots of people are in line waiting to board.