The printing and publishing industries have been pretty immune to consultants and their management buzzwords. But maybe it’s time to put the scepticism aside as there’s a lot they can offer, especially for managing environmental impact. Coming slowly into favour are the principles of supply chain management which are gradually seeping their way into the graphic arts.
Books are surely one of life’s greatest pleasures. Whether its shopping for them, sending them to people as presents, looking at them on the shelves, or even just reading them. The yumminess of a well-produced book may be why the number of people in the US who read a book last year, rose by four percent. For a country of over 316 million people, this is not small cheese, especially given how often the printed book death knell gets so loudly tolled.
Nearly 8,000 small, medium and large companies, including printers and publishers from 140 countries have signed up to the UN’s Global Compact, ten principles which cover human rights, labour, anticorruption and of course the environment. Principle 7 says that businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges; principle 8 says they should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and principle 9 says they should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies. The UN published a sort of progress report earlier this year.
Industry everywhere suffers from bureaucracy intended to make life safer, less corrupt and more fair and efficient. The graphic arts industry is not alone in having to cope with excessive, unproductive yet necessary administration and regulatory compliance. In several regions around the world the printing industry must comply with some pretty hefty rules. Some of these, such as chemicals management and disposal are important and valuable, but others, such as guidance documents relating to new laws take much time without necessarily delivering tangible benefits to the business.
In many economies, curbside recycling is becoming the norm. Actually we can recycle virtually anything: in developed economies technology takes care of it, and elsewhere innovative entrepreneurs do the work. The biggest consideration ought to be the environmental and economic impacts of the recycling process itself. In some situations sending the stuff for incineration might be the least negative option.