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FLEXO Magazine : April 2011
Industry Indicators Sustainability & the Flexo Industry Update By Doreen M. Monteleone Flexographic printers can no longer ignore the call to sus- tainable businesses practices. A little more than 4 years ago, Walmart published its “Packaging Scorecard” for suppliers to support the company ’s commitment to reducing packaging across its global supply chain. In 2010, Walmart, the world’s largest public corporation, reported more than $405 billion in revenue, 2.1 million employees and nearly 9,000 stores in 15 countries. That year, Proctor & Gamble also introduced its own scorecard to determine its supplier’s sustainability ratings. In 2009, Unilever announced its vision to double its size while reducing its overall impact across its entire value chain. Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) recently con- ducted a survey of its printer members to determine their un- derstanding of sustainability, the level of pressure they were under to become more sustainable and their response to that pressure. Sixty printer locations participated in the survey. When asked about how familiar they were with sustain- ability, 47 percent felt very knowledgeable about the topic. Less than 38 percent indicated moderate knowledge and 13 percent were somewhat knowledgeable. Only a very small percentage considered themselves not knowledgeable at all. When FTA members were asked about the trend in feeling pressure about sustainability from their print buyers, the ma- jority said the pressure has increased since last year. Keep in mind that a response of “no change” does not indicate a lack of pressure. It means only that there was no change in pres- sure from the previous year. Only a very small percentage said the pressure decreased. (See Figure 1.) Printers were asked specifically about the sustainability ex- pectations of their customers, the print buyers. Forty percent responded that they were now required by their customers to have a sustainability program in place. Just over 50 percent were not. (See Figure 2.) Yet 75 percent of respondents said they were striving toward sustainability, even when their cus- tomers did not require them to do so. The first step on a formal journey to sustainability is to create a policy declaring the ways a company is trying to become more sustainable. This policy needs to be transpar- ent and announced publicly. More than 82 percent of survey respondents indicated that they were either developing a formal policy or already had one in place. A sustainability management system (SMS) is the heart of developing a solid sustainability program. Similar to an en- FIgUre 1. trend in sustainability pressure over previous year. FIgUre 2. Percentage of printers whose customers require sustainability programs. FIgUre. 3. Percentage of printers reporting having a sustainability management system in place. 10 FLEXO aPril 2011 www.flexography.org