Call it denial, call it boredom, call it what you like, but I can’t go on any longer ignoring this global pox. It has struck down too many people, devastated lives, trashed economies everywhere and still it shows only slender signs of abating. The only good news is the clean, quiet skies, waterways and roads. The UK graphics business is a tale of unrelenting woe, and colleagues in other countries say much the same.
The need to solve the sustainability conundrum touches all businesses, including publishing, not least in these challenging times. Major brands such as Penguin Random House (PRH) have implemented sustainability policies, with defined commitments to reducing carbon emissions. Until recently, UK based PRH processed around one million books per week. They came into a central warehouse from printers and were delivered to bookshops around the country. It’s very strange that a company this successful and this plugged into the need to streamline and manage costs, is still operating with this model.
We hear a lot about the Circular Economy most of it quite confusing for printing companies and print buyers. However, we recently came across a comprehensive explanation of the Circular Economy and its underlying principles. It was provided by the Advisory Committee on Environmental Aspects (ACEA) which helps the International Electronics Committee with environmental matters. Solange Blaszkowski chair of the ACEA says that 50 million tonnes of electronic waste go to landfill annually and that over 75% of the earth’s surface shows signs of degradation “mostly due to human doing”. The Circular Economy is about fixing that and ensuring sustainable growth for a rising global population.
Now that there is more time to plan the next Drupa, we thought it might be interesting to explore some ideas for what might be interesting environmental impact additions to the show.
Awards for sustainability in the graphics sector are not particularly common, and few have lasted more than a couple of years, despite the industry’s need for positive environmental messaging. But since the inception of the Sonora Plate Green Leaf in 2013 awards Kodak has continued to acknowledge customers for their commitment to improving the environmental impact of their businesses. For the 2019 Sonora Plate Green Leaf awards Kodak has recognised 52 printers, an astonishing increase in the number of recipients over the last few years. The programme started in 2013 and in 2016 there were eight winners. This year’s crop of 52 represents a more than 600% increase. That says a lot for the technology, but also for the commitment of printers to improve their sustainability.