Over the past two months, we’ve talked about the industry as a whole and the forecast of what was to come in 2010 in terms of growth and niche opportunities. But what about sustainability? Was it just a trend or is it something that has “legs”? In addition to talking to experts about the state of the wide- and grand-format industry, I also asked them for their take on sustainability. Is it here to stay or has the economy and recession completely sidetracked it?
Steve Blanken, sales director, Contex
In the short term I think sustainability will be a cautious trend not a growing trend, and this is a direct result of the economy
Marco Boer, vice president, IT Strategies
Some might say that the trend towards more environmentally friendly products has stalled, but it is probably inaccurate to say that people are not interested and are voting with their wallets to buy older, less environmentally responsible printers and inks. The awareness that has been raised about environmentally unfriendly products has not just affected the ultimate buyers of printed output, but also the operators of the printing equipment. Those operators may indeed have become the biggest evangelists for environmentally friendly printers. At buying decision time, they are the ones who are know steering the decision towards environmentally friendlier products out of concerns of their own long-term health interest and the reputation the shop has on the community. If anything, it raises the need for a broader range of environmentally responsible printers.
Steve Bova, CAE,executive director, International Reprographic Association (IRgA)
The trend hasn’t changed but the speed to the trend has slowed based on more conservative budgeting. Customers who embraced using recycled paper have, in some cases, moved back to the less expensive standard paper offerings; however, many customers are moving to digital document management and distribution, which is a sustainable practice. While “green” may have been put aside as a top priority to a large extent, it is definitely something that is here to stay once the economy improves.
Bill Dundas, director of technical affairs, ISA
While current economic conditions tend to encourage cost cutting, the long-term success of companies in this segment depends on delivering quality solutions attuned to significant market conditions. While sustainability in materials and business practices is often characterized as a trend, it’s likely to soon become the new norm for the digital sign and graphics industry. This is likely because, at all levels, government policies have already laid a strong foundation for substantial growth in sustainable business practices.
Adam Florek, research analyst, Lyra Research, Inc.
Businesses will become more environmentally-friendly once business returns. Sustainable concerns, however, will not be the highest priority for PSPs, nor even the second-highest priority. That’s because even when the economy was healthy, environmental considerations were outweighed by other factors. Image quality is likely to remain the most important factor for PSPs in the long run, followed by cost-efficiency. It’s more appropriate to say that environmentally-friendliness will be a prerequisite for any PSP considering a new wide-format printer.
Sustainability is being down-played during the current crisis. PSPs are not willing to pay a premium for sustainable solutions. With business down, a lot of businesses are eschewing any technology perceived as risky. Hence, firms are more likely to stick to platforms and media they have already worked with.
Tim Greene, director, Wide Format & Jetting Technologies, InfoTrends
While I think sustainability has a very important place, more than 40 percent of print buyers told us they consider sustainability as part of the overall print buying process, it takes a back seat to price in these tough economic times in a lot of cases.