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Print and the environment

By The Drum | Administrator

April 17, 2008 | 9 min read

Jon Bailey, sales director, ProCo

Is it the agencies, clients or printers that are leading the demand for environmentally-friendly print?

I think that it is a real mix of all concerned, personally. With regards to being environmentally aware I think that all areas of the industry have understood the importance of everybody’s role in making a difference - to the environment and their businesses.

What measures have you taken to meet the demands?

Believe it or not, we now have someone whose job it is to monitor and maintain our environmental credentials. That’s a big step for a business of our size.

I must say, we were in a fairly privileged position as when we moved to our new factory two and a half years ago we were aware of the “soon to be required” environmental policies and requirements so we made sure that our new facility offered the right foundation to build on.

This has enabled us to evolve and maintain our policies fairly quickly and efficiently.

We have however gone through accreditations for FSC & PEFC and are currently waiting for final accreditation for ISO14001.

What are the biggest challenges in meeting environmentally-friendly requirements?

Managing it. It’s relatively easy to get an environmental policy together to meet tender requirements but its very difficult to maintain it and show the ongoing commitment in the cause.

As with a lot of new initiatives - training for example - you go on a training course and feel totally focused to changing the way you work only to get back in the office the next day and go back to the way you were before, forgetting everything you felt so invigorated about the day before! It’s a similar situation and the challenge is to ensure that you continue to make it part of your everyday business decision making.

From a long-term perspective, what kind of impact will it have on the print industry?

I think a really positive one. For many years the print industry has been seen as a negative environment with regards to carbon emissions but that is actually not true in most cases. As an industry, there has been pressure for a long time to ensure waste is controlled correctly and emissions are monitored so the fact that this has now become an area that is important to customers throughout the chain is fantastic.

It is always a good thing to focus on how you run your company and if focusing on your environmental impact can help you improve your work-flows and processes then I see it a great long term opportunity.

Simon Bucktrout, sales director, Team Impression

Is it the agencies, clients or printers that are leading the demand for environmentally-friendly print?

The demand to be more environmentally conscious is now been pushed by all parties. Probably end user clients started to be more aware 12-24 months ago and were instigating the use of greener paper stocks and inks. This has now been taken on by all involved including agencies, printers and paper companies.

What measures have you taken to meet demands?

It has, for the last two years, been our company policy to use vegetable-based, solvent-free inks wherever possible. We also print using a waterless solution, meaning that very little alcohol is required, thus reducing the use of chemicals. We have had a recycling disposal policy in place for the last six years for all waste metal plates, paper and chemicals.

We have recently been through the accreditation process to be an FSC approved printer and will be moving this through towards getting ISO 14001 which is a full quality and environmental control of all aspects of the business.

Other less obvious steps have been taken such as the investment in more automated presses that use significantly less paper to set up on and have less wastage during a run. Also the introduction of two digital presses for shorter run jobs, with these the first sheet off the press is up to colour strength and quality therefore requiring no paper wastage whatsoever.

What are the biggest challenges in meeting environmentally-friendly requirements?

To be honest the biggest challenge is time. Being able to gather the information required, staying in contact with the governing bodies and then acting on their recommendations whilst still running a busy company in a fast moving and competitive market is difficult.

Really you need to appoint someone responsible for the smooth-running, regulating and updating of your internal systems who is not involved in the day-to-day business.

From a long-term perspective, what kind of impact will it have on the print industry?

It is difficult to tell. Obviously the print industry has suffered many casualties over the past few years and with the general economy struggling, it is fair to assume that this trend will continue.

As companies try and become leaner in terms of staffing it will be difficult for some to justify employing people in such a non-producing role.

Companies will have to realise the benefits of how being greener can create a more efficient way of working.

Julie Rice, commercial manager, Evolution print and chair Print Yorkshire

Is it the agencies, clients or printers that are leading the demand for environmentally-friendly print?

I don’t think it can be attributed to one group. Most successful organisations recognise that there is a strategic advantage to having a superior environmental performance and the creative sector is no different.

Printers have had to comply with environmental legislation for some time now, but have probably been slow to promote the advantages of an eco-friendly business.

Design agencies have realised the importance of environmental issues to their clients and consequently working with a printing company that has “grasped the environmental nettle” gives them an advantage.

What measures have you taken to meet demands?

Legislation over recent years has ensured that printing companies on the whole have to act in an environmentally responsible manner. Gaining FSC accreditation was an important step as the FSC “tick” is a powerful brand that immediately demonstrates our environmental integrity as a printer and user of sustainable products.

This obviously goes further than paper and we also have a strategy to use more vegetable and soy-based inks and reduce the use of solvents.

With the help of the Carbon Trust we are implementing a waste reduction strategy as well as improving existing recycling policies and analyzing fuel useage.

Employee-led initiatives include a Cycle to Work scheme which is backed by us and we provide a facility to purchase bicycles for staff.

What are the biggest challenges in meeting environmentally-friendly requirements?

Meeting the needs of environmental legislation and the environmental accreditations can be an administrative nightmare.

We took the decision to create a specific role within the business to make sure environmental issues receive the right level of focus.

From a long-term perspective, what kind of impact will it have on the print industry?

The print industry has already reacted to environmental pressures and most printers have now got their house in order.

There is plenty of support from national agencies, such as BPIF, Envirowise, Carbon Trust and the Environment agency and also local agencies like Print Yorkshire, Chamber of Commerce and Business Link.

Companies that try and ignore environmental pressure to improve their businesses may live to regret it.

We asked a handful of design agencies to tell us what they felt were the biggest challenges of meeting environmentally-friendly print requirements. Here’s what they had to say...

One of the biggest challenges is actually trying to really understand the client’s requirements. Even with the clients that do request it, they are often confused to what they actually want. They often can’t be more specific than “they want something that is sustainable to the environment”. There are so many different terms out there - sustainable, recyclable, carbon neutral etc but knowledge of what they actually mean is very low. Most clients believe that just specifying a recycled paper is sufficient but aren’t aware about the damages of the actual print process or alternative options such as vegetable-based inks.

Thryth Jarvis, Thompson

I think the stereotype of more green equals sacrificing quality, could be a problem for some clients.

However we tend to favour more of the natural materials and uncoated papers so the transition to recycled stocks and more experimental materials is a welcome challenge that throws up new ideas everyday. I think there are some exciting new materials out there being developed for the architectural market that are filtering through into other areas of design.

Darren Scott, creative partner, Truth Design

I don’t see many challenges; we have excellent experience looking at environmentally-friendly matters by working with Knauf Insulation. The biggest challenge is the cost, in some cases it puts companies off. The more environmentally-friendly materials are significantly more expensive.

However with companies looking at publishing more materials through digital media it’s not only more environmentally-friendly, but more cost effective for them too. Companies, especially those in the public sector, are becoming increasingly more e-focused, investing more and more in their websites.

Andy Wood, Go Creative Design

Choosing the most appropriate material to project brand values. It may be that a company particularly wants to be viewed as being environmentally friendly. In that case a deliberately overtly recycled stock might be ideal. Other companies might be keen to be environmentally responsible, but might require a high degree of finish not normally associated with recycled papers. The new generation of white-coated, fully recycled materials might be the answer. Environmentally-friendly paper is a complex area; other issues, include the use of bleach and energy, emissions and the discharge of water to waste.

Jack Pearce, joint creative director, Silk Pearce

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