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FLEXO Magazine : March 2010
10 FLEXO MARCH 2010 www.flexography.org During 2008, Pira International conducted research for PRIMIR/NPES in a study, entitled, Sustainable Print in a Dynamic Global Market: What Going Green Means. With North America being the largest producer of global printed products and the groundswell of focus on energy conservation, environmental and sustainability concerns PRI- MIR members agreed it was time to face the issue head-on and learn more. The 300+ page study, soon to be published, delves into the impact of print on the environment. It investigates who is driving sustainability in our industry, accreditation and other environmental management pro- grams and systems, regulatory and compliance issues, how print compares with other industries, and carbon footprinting and offsetting. In the end, the study provides a number of best practice case studies as well as recommendations for all firms in the print supply chain. According to the study, "The world is now at a crossroads between the old path of development at the cost of environ- mental degradation, and a new path combining economic growth with social responsibility and environmental sustain- ability." Sustainability is generally defined as: • Balancing the needs of society, environment, and the organization. • Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The Food Marketing Institute Sustainability Task Force said it best: "Business strategies and practices that promote the long- term well being of the environment, society and the bottom line." The industry is flooded with green claims and a lot of gre- enwashing. It is difficult to separate the myth from reality, but the PRIMIR study found that few companies in the packaging industry who claim to be green truly are. The study pointed to a significant need for education around virtually every ele- ment on the path to sustainability. Many printers claim to be green simply because they are FSC certified. On the posi- tive side, however, a large number of printers are recycling everything they can from their operation, and many are also generating income as a result. Other more progressive firms have an all-out corporate commitment and culture toward sustainability, have full time staff dedicated to that purpose, and have made significant investments that already provide a positive ROI---not only to their production costs, but also in new customers who are seeking a sustainable supplier. Some examples include a small west coast printer who said that a $5,000 investment in a solvent recovery system generated 30 percent reduction in solvent use. Another print firm reportedly generates $5,000 to $7,000 per year by recy- cling plates. And one of the few ISO 14001 certified printers in the U.S. said that the investment of $30,000 over three years in certification and audits had a positive ROI, even without ac- counting for the additional business gained as a result. While the corporate commitment and culture is a huge driver for many of the printers interviewed, the researchers found that the Fortune 1000 consumer product companies (CPCs) are one of the main drivers for companies that commit to green and sustainable practices. PRIMIR research found that a key issue for print buyers about sustainability of print is with paper (recycled content, landfills, and sustainable forestry). However, the research clearly indicates a trend and shifting focus toward carbon footprint concerns and carbon neutrality. For corporate communications executives, it is easy to as- sume that using alternative electronic media (emails, podcasts, websites, or even television) are naturally greener. Reduction of print is an easy target, but in reality, e-media alternatives have a far greater environmental impact than is commonly believed. Consider this, while the paper industry is the U.S.'s The New Era of Sustainable Print Overview of a new PRIMIR research study INDUSTRY INDICATORS • Many printers claim to be green simply because they are FSC certified. • Consumer product companies (CPCs) are one of the main drivers for companies that commit to green and sustainable practices. • Educate yourself, your customers, suppliers, employ- ees, and your local community. • The quest for sustainable print in this dynamic global market, with downward pricing pressure, a global credit crunch, and escalating energy prices, at first glance appears to face an insurmountable challenge. • The industry needs to develop a new philosophy of supply chain integration, a partnership approach, and a more supportive and inclusive dialogue SUSTAINABLE PRINT AT-A-GLANCE 66% Respondents (of 209 printers surveyed) that have achieved cost savings from green programs $4.7 billion Money lost annually by printers due to inefficient resource use 4.5% Percent of sales lost due to waste 39 U.S.'s 2008 Environmental Performance Index rank .075 New EPA National Ambient Air Quality standards 300 Number of counties that fail to meet the new limit .25% Percent of industry sales spent on pollution abatement in 2005 .07% Percent of industry sales spent on pollution abatement equipment
Sustainable Winter 2010