“Legislative pressures are only going to keep increasing and we are just trying to keep pace, which comes at an expense. We have to do it, with the number of our clients moving towards greener printing, without meeting ISO 4001 standard we couldn’t exist.
“It’s all bureaucratic, a paperwork exercise basically. It’s a case of us listing everything we’re doing in terms of waste management and removal, so we can prove we’re doing exactly what we claim to be. It’s as time consuming as it is expensive, but it’s worthwhile for us as a business and the environment.”
Is there an end in sight for the various levels of accreditation being expected of the print industry?
“No, and that’s why we can’t afford to stand still. Whether the pressure from clients will continue to increase is one thing but there will certainly continue to be legislative demands (from governing bodies).”
With the industry lambasted for “skirting around” environmental concerns then, is the design community more receptive to embracing consumers green requirements?
“Not necessarily,” suggests Grogan, “because then it becomes a cost issue. Independent agencies are much more aware of costing.
“It tends to be the corporates, those responsible for much of the direct mail, who are more environmentally aware and they don’t mind paying that bit extra for it.”
John Bailey, sales director at FSC and PEFC accredited ProCo Print in Sheffield, says the pressures of corporate social responsibility is coming from everywhere, and being felt by everyone.
“We’re being approached about this more and more from clients. A lot of companies that come to us are being challenged to reduce their carbon footprint and that is where we come in.
“The fact that we’ve got the accreditation has been important, it’s something a lot of our clients look for and are becoming aware of.”
ProCo might have gone green then, but at what price?
“You need to spend in order to make it happen,” says Bailey, “But more people are coming to us so it’s worth it if it’s driving business.
“When people approach us with concerns [over their CSR] we can now show them what we can offer, and educate them to an extent.”
ProCo amalgamated three sites in Sheffield in a bid to improve workflow, reduce waste reduction and improve recycling.
“We don’t want to be seen as do-gooders, we wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t right for the business,” admits Bailey, “but if it’s helps the environment as well, that’s a bonus.”
“A lot of our clients look for the green badge now, as they’re being put under so much pressure from consumers.”
So the DM industry is aware of the importance of meeting CSR expectations, then?
“Given the response we’ve had with our accreditation it appears so. A broad range of our clients, from big companies to smaller agencies are looking at ways to use us because they’re being challenged to reduce their own carbon footprint.”
Pro-Co, like many printers, have been pro-active in tackling the green revolution in printing, but questions continue to be raised as to whether or not the industry as a whole is doing enough to ensure it continues to meet the needs of both clients and accrediting bodies?
“The accreditation is one thing, but soon the practices we have put in place will become legislation, so we’re ready,” adds Bailey.
The butter to the print industry’s bread, Malcolm Sinclair, MD at UK papermakers Tullis Russell, believes the repercussions of consumers environmental concerns is being felt right through the paper-chain.
“Demand for environmentally friendly papers continues to grow, month on month. Demand from public and blue chip sectors is particularly high as more and more focus is put on environmental issues.
“We’ve also noticed an increased demand from users looking for more tactile uncoated surfaces – particularly in card, cover and premium packaging markets.”
The DMA’s Green Matters guidelines sought to abolish some common misconceptions, or easy excuses, for agencies and businesses not using eco-friendly printing techniques. This included the suggestion that such methods come at the expense of quality in the end product.
Sinclair explains how Tullis Russell has adapted to ensure that the well-being of the environment can be maintained without sacrificing the wellbeing of the printed communication.
“We were one of the first mills in Europe to make all our coated SBS grades FSC accredited. In addition, we\'ve included recycled options in all these grades – giving buyers the added benefit of both FSC and recycled accreditation in the one grade. By doing this we have met the demand for environmentally friendly grades, but with no compromise on quality of print or the end job.”
Daniela Oberti, marketing co-ordinator for Northampton-based paper merchants Fedrigoni UK, says that the notion that quality is expendable in terms of eco-friendliness is pure myth.
“The challenge is in the education. The 100 per cent recycled paper, for instance, is at such a level where if you looked at it you’d have no idea it was recycled.”
But it seems to be this word, recycled, that strikes fear into the hearts of specifiers, worried that their craft just won’t look or feel right. Oberti agrees.
“We try to encourage people to use the recycled and FSC standard paper, but there are some people who just have this perception and it’s useless trying to sell it to them.
“Big-end customers, large businesses, are asking for it more and more though.”
Fedrigoni UK has been FSC accredited on some of its products for a year, and Oberti believes this accreditation to be essential because she has seen first hand the struggle without it.
“Before we had FSC it was hard because for some customers, there was so much pressure on them from consumers that they just couldn’t come to us.
“Despite the fact that most of the demand comes from businesses with massive printing jobs to do, the design community has been very receptive to it. Those customers pay a lot of attention to the product and what we can offer them.”
More and more businesses and agencies are now making the effort – through their own choice or otherwise – to tick the green box. For those that aren’t, the excuse that worrying about green issues takes their eye off the ball doesn’t cut any more.
While companies are embracing their need for CSR, saving the environment remains an expensive business.
It might not be fair to point the finger exclusively at the direct marketing industry as Baker did – although it is one of the largest buyers of print and paper.
The only trouble is, the eco-loving consumer might just have found an old enemy to beat their eco-frustrations out on.