Does this sound like an impossible task? Of course it does, but it has to be done if the media industry wants to be able to benchmark and monitor its carbon footprint. We have managed to develop an ISO standard for calculating the carbon footprint of print media (ISO 16759), so now all eyes are on electronic media.
For people who are obsessive recyclers and composters, it’s very annoying when organic matter refuses to cooperate. Instead of rotting quietly away in the depths of the bin, things like avocado skins and lemons just sit there, defiant and unchanging. No matter how long you leave them, they just don’t biodegrade. Almost as annoying are the labels applied to fruit and vegetables, which generally do not rot down with the rest of the peels. If they’re stuck on an orange or an avocado skin they burn well enough. But if they are on the skin of something that otherwise does biodegrade, such as a banana or pear, the labels can accumulate. For people with a penchant for compost and who eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, this is very frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Prepress used to be an expensive and time consuming business. But over the years, process automation has steadily ground down prices. Software now takes care of much of what high ticket professionals used to handle. This means that today the most expensive bit of prepress is in making the plates. This is the part of prepress where most savings can be gained, especially if printers shift to processless plates. This saves money and it’s also extremely good for the environment.
The US based Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) provides certification to confirm a printing company’s conformance to specific sustainability goals. The organisation has now certified over 50 American printers for compliance to its programme. What makes the SGP initiative interesting is the range of criteria it uses for its certification scheme. It has much in common with ISO environmental standards, but SGP takes a much more rounded and hands on approach.
The European Commission is forging ahead with its plans to develop its own Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and Corporate Environmental Footprint (CEF) rules. This must be costing taxpayers a bomb, but it’s proceeding even though the need is questionable. The EU is ignoring existing and proven specifications such as PAS 2050 and ISO TS 14067 for product carbon footprinting and of course ISO 16759, which is carbon footprinting specific to print media. The EU’s also ignoring its own EcoLabel, which like the PEF and CEF is more a guideline than a formal regulatory requirement.