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FLEXO Magazine : March 2008
64 FLEXO MARCH 2008 www.flexography.org g g Third-party verification will be essential for creditability. The SGP Partnership could encompass multiple levels of en- try to accommodate all sizes of facilities. The rollout should be done in phases, so as to facilitate de- velopment of valid criteria for each aspect of the program. A glossary of terms needs to be developed that will serve as benchmarks and information points for the printers, suppli- ers, and final customer base of the industry. Education and outreach to printers, print buyers, consumer product companies, environmental groups, and other non- government organizations is critical for the introduction of the program and its continued viability. After the first meeting, the three associations spent many hours on conference calls to respond to the discussions. During that time, we regrouped with our own individual sustainability committees to update them and get feedback on proposed levels and criteria. The associations then, developed a "strawman" crite- ria proposal. The second meeting of the stakeholder group was held in Chicago, IL in late January with 50 people attending. The group reached consensus on a structure for the key elements that en- compass a printer's sustainability activities: product, process, and the envelope. The focus on the product involves the input mate- rials that are used to produce printed material such as substrates, inks, coatings, adhesives, etc. The process is the actual manufac- turing and involves prepress, press, and postpress equipment and supporting technology. The envelope is the building, grounds, energy consumption, employees, and other supporting activities. All three of these elements play an important role in defining a green printer and a sustainable product. The group had a vigorous discussion of possible SGP partici- pant criteria using the proposal developed by the associations as a starting point, and also considered what elements might be specified for the product, process and envelope categories. The initial set of criteria is being further fleshed out by subcommit- tees for each aspect of sustainability. Although not finalized, they will likely include components such as: Meet all applicable federal, state, and local environmental, health, and safety regulations. Establish and maintain formal environmental, health and safety committees, including developing agendas, taking minutes, and communicating meeting results to employees. Establish and maintain a formal management system includ- ing Gaps analysis designed to identify and address environ- mental, health and safety deficiencies (e.g., EMS, ISO 14000, Lean Manufacturing with an environmental component, Six Sigma, etc.) Establish and maintain an environmental, health and safety metric system to measure and report on progress. ible, implement a pollution pre- ompasses plans to reduce, reuse, uction, cafeteria/lunch room and he facility under the control of ria, such as safe and hygienic r laws, minimum wage laws, etc. Where appropriate and feasible, implement programs to reduce facility wide environmental footprint, evaluating energy efficiency, alternative and renewable energy, carbon offsets, grounds and building maintenance, all wastes and transportation. Develop dialog with customers and suppliers on the ultimate fate of products. The verification process, once implemented, will likely include an application with supporting materials, an initial verification audit and subsequent bi-annual audits. On an annual basis, SGP printers will need to: Report on progress made to reduce pollution, injuries and 1. illnesses. Iincrease recycling efforts 2. Issue a management system assessment report showing 3. progress made over the previous 12 months. SGP printer registration will be site-specific and not on a company-wide basis. The identification of key environmental impacts anticipates the development and use of universal metrics by the industry. Adoption and use of these metrics will provide consistency for printing facilities, suppliers to the industry, customer base, and the general public. The SGP Partnership will work with the sup- plier network and others to determine appropriate characteristics for substrates, chemicals, and other input materials used by the printer. This information will address, among other issues, clari- fying recyclability, biodegradability, compostability, recycled con- tent, and volatile organic compound (VOC) content. It is often said that sustainability is a journey, not an endpoint. What may be considered sustainable business practices today, will evolve and businesses will have higher expectations in the future. The SGP Partnership will evolve as well. If you haven't been asked if your company is green or sustain- able yet, it is bound to happen very soon. It is in your company's best interest to begin examining its environmental footprint and start moving down a "green pathway to sustainability." That just happens to be the theme of this year's National Environmental, Health and Safety (NEHS) Conference, which will be held March 10-12, 2008 in Indianapolis, IN. The SGP Partnership will at that time allow printers to beta-test the program. It is anticipated that the SGP certification program will be in full operation later in the year. FTA TODAY For more information about the SGP Partnership, access www.sgppartnership.org and for the NEHS Conference, access www.nehsconference.org.