It seems so simple, you invest in new technology that’s got a lower carbon footprint and you’re making a more sustainable choice. And achieving a lower carbon footprint is a lot to do with why companies invest in upgraded digital presses, new computer-to-plate systems and even processless plates, such as Kodak’s Sonora. But what are the knock-on environmental effects of new, more sustainable technologies? It’s a problem not only for technology investments, but for everything we do that is intended to be environmentally friendly.
When big brands start taking action, you know its serious. IKEA and Starbucks recently announced their intentions to do away with plastic straws and this could mark the start of some altogether bolder initiatives. Both companies want to be seen to be doing something about the plastics pollution problem.
Following a recent argument with a bunch of tenants in a block of flats in Brighton UK, the local municipality removed all recycling facilities except for glass. A building of 40 flats and around 150 people now throw all their cans, paper, board and recyclable plastics into the trash. It ends up either incinerated or in landfill. The tenants are mostly in uproar and understandably disinclined to traipse off to overflowing streetside recycling bins. But it’s a bigger problem than mere inconvenience. Buyers of recycled raw materials are losing out, because this pattern of behaviour is not unique to a single block of flats.
As the graphics industry’s technological infrastructure comes together, brand owners are driving project designers and printing companies more assertively. But brand owners themselves are under pressure: retailers increasingly sell own brand goods, local producers serve slow food markets and upstart entrepreneurs in all sectors chase market share previously controlled by entrenched brands. Brands must also contend with the changing expectations of consumers. A central concern is the perception that brands have a responsibility for environmental impacts.
At the recent DSCOOP in Vienna, a chatfest for users of HP Indigo technologies, HP and partner conversations were many. Participants were keen and even passionate. to share, confident that they were in the right environment for doing so. It’s not as if people forgot that they were amongst potential competitors, but there was a fantastic atmosphere of sharing and learning. It was really quite uplifting, but it was also clear that to few players in the graphics industry have the confidence to talk about sustainability with a straight face. It’s almost as if the environment is not a cool topic for serious business people.