The Olympics motto of faster, higher, stronger has never had the airplay it’s had in this Olympic year. It’s everywhere and, in the UK at least, it’s a risk of becoming noiseless and meaningless. But it’s a motto the printing industry could readily adapt, especially in terms of environmentalperformance improvements. In the green room of carbon footprinting, calculating carbon footprints is a preamble to the main event of reduced environmental impact.
There is an terrible war or words going on between APP and the WWF. The fight is about APP’s destruction of Indonesian rain forests to feed their new paper mills in China. The group is a division of Sina Mas a large conglomerate based in Shanghai and which is also one of the world’s big palm oil producers. Several major brands, including Burger King, Carrefour and Nestlé have boycotted the company because of its environmental abuses. Ricoh is one of several graphic arts industry players that does not do business with APP.
Well yes of course it is, but it isn’t often enough that the printing industry itself reminds the world of just how gorgeous print is, as well as its sustainability. At drupa there were many examples of our industry’s environmental friendliness but one of the best was Agfa’s Print Inspires Print project. This beautiful little book isn’t a shout for how wonderfully green print media is compared to electronic media, a mantra that’s getting pretty tired these days. Although we need to keep repeating it more imagination is required, and that is what Agfa’s Print Inspires Print delivers.
Ecolabels are a pain. They are generally well-intended, aiming to make life simpler for consumers and provide assurance that a product is environmentally friendly. But really eco labels alone don’t help industry sectors to improve their carbon footprints or environmental impacts. For instance in the US eco labels are required for cars and tumble dryers. They are a pain because they give a false and misleading impression that the impact problem is solved, which of course it isn’t and cannot be just because of a quantification and validation proceedure.
The Toshiba fiasco is behind us but that doesn’t mean we can breathe even a little sigh of relief. The graphic arts industry has an uphill road to climb, if it is going to really be able to change its image. Actually that road isn’t particularly hard or steep because the industry has impressive achievements and unbeatable credentials when it comes to environmental impact. No other media can do what print can do: you can smell it, touch it, caress it and even lick it if you want. As yummy as all that iStuff is, it just doesn’t have the same sensory clout.