In much of the developing world no one seems to care much about pollution. In Beijing recently the government hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Conference. It wanted to show Beijing, a fascinating and strangely beautiful city, at its best. To help international leaders to breathe, the government gave workers five days off, shut down the factories and only allowed cars on the road on alternate days according to whether they had odd or even number plates. The result was clear blue skies and air you could inhale without coughing, proving that motivation is the biggest driver for change. Once the guests had gone, it was back to the normal dense stench.
In January Danish Members of Parliament (MPs) will vote on draft legislation to tax commercial print. The tax will make print cost 25-50% more and is being imposed to discourage print’s use, on the basis that it is bad for the environment. If it goes through, this tax will severely damage Danish businesses and according to the Danish printers’ trade body cost some 600 print and supply chain jobs. The Danish printer’s association is working hard to educate the people involved, however they have had limited success so far. It seems that the potential income for the government trumps arguments for print’s sustainability, the need to keep people employed and for businesses in the media supply chain to thrive.
Computing used to be something we all paid attention to and mostly understood. We knew what processor powered a Mac or a PC or a server, and we completely got the difference between Ethernet and IBM’s Token Ring for instance. It was long ago, but in years gone by understanding the network and computing platform was vital for efficient prepress. It was part of how we improved processes and kept costs down, and because it was part of a rolling investment it was an important contributor to improving print’s environmental impact.
Environmental stewardship sounds impressive. It comes down to the basics of managing the business with a view to waste and cost control and environmental impact. There are loads of printing and publishing companies around the world positioning themselves in this way; sometimes they live up to the images they want to project, and sometimes they don’t. That matters less than the fact that they are trying to improve their environmental engagement in the first place.
In most progressive rock music, movement through its sound doesn’t necessarily happen smoothly or obviously. Often it is made in unexpected and unanticipated ways, which is the way of progress in most situations. Progress happens with little steps. We recently came across a lovely example of how it works in the real world of printing and publishing, in the Life and Ecoedicion office of the regional Ministry of the Environment for Andalucia in Spain. This is a local government office that wants to provide an example of green procurement and services. The office has set up a project to improve publishing and production processes and goods procurement, so that they are more environmentally friendly.