A major argument for using print instead of e-media, is that print has a one off carbon footprint: you don’t need energy to use it or store its content. In 2015 the online monster that is Google used 5.6 terawatt hours of energy to power its data servers alone. As more people start living online lives, the internet’s power usage is growing exponentially.
Environmental awards recognise excellence and raise environmental awareness. They also demonstrate the wider commitment a specific industry sector has to environmental improvement. The WWF Environmental Paper Awards are a special set of prizes for the paper industry to acknowledge continual improvements and in 2016, the WWF recognised 124 companies.
With astonishing speed, Ricoh has gone from new entrant to market leader in many areas of the graphics business. It saw a three-fold increase in printing systems turnover between 2003 and 2013, and is the first digital press company to achieve certification to ISO 12647-2, the reference standard for colour quality. The company has however not forgotten its green committments or the People Planet Profit triple bottom line for social equity, economic and environmental factors. Ricoh has a goal for 2050 that 50% of all raw materials used in its digital presses and associated materials will be based on recyclates.
Improving the green credentials of the graphics business can take many forms. Most motivations for doing so are economic rather than philanthropic, however the future of the printing and publishing industries depends on both social and economic improvements. Digital press and print consumables manufacturers such as Agfa, Fujifilm and Kodak have done much to improve print’s environmental economics, cutting their technologies’ power usage requirements for instance. These three have massively improved plate processing and associated chemistries and materials recyclability. They have reduced the use of VOCs, and improved production efficiency with clever software and artificial intelligence. But when it comes to social programmes, Kodak is leading the way.
When ISO 16759 for calculating the carbon footprint of print media products was under development, we mostly had in mind paper based prints. It is interesting to see this standard being deployed for other types of print media, which is what a Taiwanese supplier of textiles has done.