Many print service providers see sustainability initiatives as an additional expense that will consume precious capital resources and erode their already slim margins, but a growing number are finding that investing in “beyond compliance” sustainability measures and seeking certification for those efforts from third party organizations like the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (www.myprintresource.com/10111175) are generating bottom line savings, increased consideration in highly competitive markets, and critical credibility support for their green marketing claims. According to Steve Whittaker, vice president of Quality Management & Sustainability Initiatives at Monroe Litho, “Demand for certification is definitely on the rise, and SGP certification has definitely contributed to an increase in Monroe Litho’s market share in several key market segments. In addition, our sustainability initiatives, which include over 60 specific health, safety, quality, and environmental performance improvement projects, have reduced our environmental impacts, improved our standing with our stakeholders and helped us reduce our costs. For example, due to our safety initiatives we were recently recognized as one of the 16 safest workplaces in America. In addition to receiving public recognition, we were also qualified to receive a $15,000 premium reduction on our workers compensation insurance.”
This article is intended to help you avoid being distracted by the “green fatigue” that can sometimes dominate the popular media spin cycle and provide you with an understanding of how companies like Monroe Litho of Rochester, NY, are meeting the growing demand for sustainable print service providers, reducing their environmental impact, and having a positive impact on their bottom line.
According to Whittaker, “For many years we had been undertaking many initiatives to reduce our environmental impacts, but we found that the SGP certification process provided us with a framework for integrating our efforts as well as a credible platform for communicating their benefits to key stakeholders.”
Consumer concerns about the environment tend to wax and wane based on the economy, politics, and other factors. But the fickle environmental opinions of consumers should not be confused with the increasing attention that major corporations, nonprofits, and key government agencies are placing on sustainable supply chains and credible environmental marketing claims.
According to the 2011 Nielsen Sustainable Efforts & Environmental Concerns report American consumers are indicating less and less concern about climate change and other environmental issues. Based on this decline in concern, you might think that marketers would be making fewer green marketing claims, but the opposite appears to be the case, with more and more companies touting their companies and their products as “green” or “environmentally friendly.”
Does this mean you can put your company’s environmental management activities on the back burner or that you too should make unsubstantiated environmental benefit claims about your company or its product?
In addition to considering sustainable supply chain initiatives, it is important to consider changes that have been proposed to the FTC Green Guide earlier this year (http://www.ftc.gov/opa/reporter/greengds.shtm). The proposed changes are based on a number of public workshops and an extensive study of how consumers interpret terms such as “green” or “good for the environment.” Some of the changes being proposed include cautioning against the use of broad claims such as “environmentally friendly” or “saves trees” and requiring that environmental or green claims only be made when they are substantiated.