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FLEXO Magazine : March 2008
62 FLEXO MARCH 2008 www.flexography.org FTA TODAY The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership A Multi-Association Endeavor To Assist in Green Goals By Doreen M. Monteleone, Ph.D. It's being called a green "tornado," "tidal wave," or "perfect storm." There is no doubt that "sustainable green printing" ranks among the most significant initiatives to ever warrant continuous, in-depth attention at the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) and similar organizations. Why? Wal-Mart, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and other con- sumer product companies (CPCs) have sought to differenti- ate themselves in the marketplace as "eco-friendly." Nobel Prize winner and former Vice President Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," significantly contrib- uted to raising the environmental awareness of the general public, resulting in additional pressure on these companies to be environmentally sustainable. An imperative has been handed to the printing industry to become more environmentally-friendly and this time it is not coming from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There is much confusion as to what defines "sustainable." For many, the term is limited to reducing the environmental foot- print of a company, often referred to as being "green." However, sustainability goes beyond environmental compliance and in- cludes economic, environmental and social aspects. It is "the ability of this generation to meet its needs, while not diminish- ing the ability of future generations to meet theirs." So, when companies that buy your printed material call and ask if you are a "sustainable" or "green" printer, what do you say and what can you prove? Are they even the same thing? You can show you have all your environmental permits in order. If you print on paper, you may be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) , or, you may be using chlorine-free paper. You may be able to prove your facility is carbon neutral by doing a carbon footprint analysis. These are definitely part of the sustainability equation. But are you a verified sustainable green printer? Would you like to be? Even without a clear definition of what sustainable, or green is, we are hearing an overwhelming, "Yes!" Some form of a sustain- ability recognition program is needed for the printing industry. GREEN FORMATION Since the mid 1990s, FTA has collaborated with the Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (PIA/ GATF) and the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) on a number of environmental, health and safety (EHS) projects. Gary Jones, PIA/GATF, Marci Kinter, SGIA and I have worked on the National Environmental, Health & Safety (NEHS) Conference, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Alliance,