The more we learn about environmental accountability, the more we realise that this is a massively complex topic. Everywhere we see clever ideas for improving the sustainability of the graphics industry, yet equally we see evidence of how far we have yet to go. How we progress as an industry, depends on how well we encourage companies to appreciate their environmental aspects, those things in the business likely to have an environmental impact. Only then can business owners and their customers start considering ways to make improvements. And this brings us to an interesting point: how does one quantify environmental aspects and impacts?
Paper is one of the world’s most readily recycled materials. It is based on a renewable resource that aids in the expansion of our planet’s lung capacity. Paper may be our most pervasive substrate, but it is not the only material used in printing and publishing applications. In packaging and in the sign and display sectors, plastic is extremely popular.
We’re gearing up for the next round of ISO meetings, including a couple of days devoted to environmental standards. We’re expecting a packed house, with participants from all over the world, so no pressure.
The graphics industry is massive and yet the number of printing organisations with more than 500 employees is small. This means that very large customers buy their print from a host of small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Such organisations tend to be under the radar for most environmental reporting regulations, because their individual impact is likely to be quite trivial, although collectively it adds up to be large. The only time the printing industry’s SMEs really bother, is when their customers or shareholders require it. This is at once problematic and an opportunity for printing companies.
Within the graphics industry there are numerous examples of companies’ efforts to improve energy generation and management. And there is ISO 50001, the standard for energy management to which companies such as Agfa and Kodak have certified compliance. But Fujifilm has gone far beyond these efforts at its Tilburg facility entirely powered with renewable energy generated by wind turbines. Employing around 850 people this site is one of Fujifilm’s largest manufacturing sites outside of Japan, producing photo paper, offset plates and membranes.