Doing something to improve the environmental sustainability of your business should be easy, but it can often seem scary. We have found that business owners in the graphics industry generally start with the obvious quick fixes, such as simplifying onsite recycling or switching to LED lighting before often losing heart. The benefit of easy steps, is that they don’t have to require much time or cost to put into place. However if you are considering more ambitious ideas, such as investing in low energy kit, the process gets a little more complicated and usually involves money.
Every year Kodak recognises printers around the world for their sustainability progress. To qualify for the Kodak Sonora Plate Green Leaf Award printing companies must use the Kodak Sonora processless plate and manage their businesses in a way that reduces overall environmental impact. In 2017, the fourth year of the prize, there were fourteen winners from all over the world. This is a record number and suggests that the sustainability message is beginning to get through.
One of the most significant labeling schemes in the graphics industry is the Greenguard certification programme for healthy indoor environments. In 2011 this certification was acquired by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a global operation and one of the most respected certification bodies in the world. UL now oversees all aspects of Greenguard.
First China and now Europe are taking big steps to clean up the environment. Their initiatives could create opportunities in the graphics industry, or be another nail in the sector’s coffin. Opportunities are there if brand owners and packaging printers get involved and take the lead in the recycling debate. Banning materials because they are hard to recycle should be a prompt to supply chains to be more innovative in the materials they use and in their recycling. A public awareness campaign as to which plastics can be recycled and how, would be a good start.
There is a lot of chat going around as to the negative impact of plastic packaging on the environment. On the one hand there’s eight million tonnes of the stuff floating malignant and unopposed in the oceans. And on the other, plastic is a very effective packaging material, especially for keeping food fresh and uncontaminated. It also extends its shelf life and it’s useful for displaying goods and for making carrier bags. Proponents of plastic packaging for bottles, bags, wrappers, tubs and trays will tell you this and they also claim that if some other material, such as metal or paper were used instead of plastic that overall emissions in terms of energy and greenhouse gases, would rise.