Sustainability—the practice of recycling, reusing, and reducing—is not just for tree hugging, living off the woods, Ed Begley Jr. fans. In fact, it's on the fast track to becoming a necessary business strategy, as more and more Fortune 1000 companies inject sustainability into their...
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Sustainability—the practice of recycling, reusing, and reducing—is not just for tree hugging, living off the woods, Ed Begley Jr. fans. In fact, it's on the fast track to becoming a necessary business strategy, as more and more Fortune 1000 companies inject sustainability into their business.
While many print service providers have made a point of recycling paper and plates and adhering to OSHA and EPA regulations, running a sustainable operation goes way beyond these efforts. Fortune 1000 companies engaged in a sustainability program will require their PSPs to demonstrate with quantifiable data the carbon footprint of their printed product, from cradle to grave. They may want to know how you are minimizing your resource consumption and see data on how you are reducing air, water, and land emissions.
"Printers are completely missing the strategic challenge they are going to face over the next few years," says Don Carli, senior research fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Communication.
A Serious Plan
Wal-Mart adopted a sustainability strategic policies and practices plan around six years ago, "driven by the understanding that sustainability is dedicated to the elimination of waste and cost," notes Carli. "Wal-Mart has developed robust and strategic policies, procedures, and organizational changes that are driving their purchasing decisions, incorporating triple bottom line metrics with environmental and social components."
Wal-Mart's sustainability goals—to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain people and the environment—has cascaded into reviews of its supply chain. Its Sustainability Product Index looks to establish a single source of data for evaluating product sustainability; its Sustainable Value Networks (SVNs) aim to integrate sustainable practices into all aspects of its business.
Along with Wal-Mart, top-tier brands such as Kellogg's, Disney, Best Buy, Colgate-Palmolive, Campbell's, HP, DuPont, and Johnson & Johnson are a part of The Sustainability Consortium, described as "an independent organization of diverse global participants working to design and implement credible, transparent and scalable science-based measurement and reporting systems accessible for all producers and users of consumer products."
"Within the graphic communications industry, there is a disconnect with the changes that are taking place in the boardrooms and the supply chain organizations of Fortune 1000 companies," says Carli. "There is a big gap to what PSPs are doing, and to what companies like Unilever, Ford, and Verizon are doing within their own organizations and within the supply chains that address their own products."
Printers, says Carli, "need to be more rigorous in the quantification and qualification in the performance of their products, services, and the suppliers they work with."
Going Green and Beyond
Monroe Litho is a great example of a commercial printer achieving success with its sustainability program. The 53-employee shop has nearly 60 ongoing initiatives—ready to be monitored and measured—in its drive to reduce, recycle, and reuse. The plant in Rochester, NY, is 100 percent wind-powered, and the company has been awarded an EPA Green Power Partner and an "Environmental Leader" designation by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Monroe Litho is a Sustainable Green Printing (SGP) Partnership-certified company, and was the seventh company in the US to become FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council).
"This is really in line with our principles," says Chris Pape, CEO, Monroe Litho. "We always tried to do lean manufacturing, we were always trying to be an environmentally-sensitive printer. We were one of the first to go alcohol-free in the 1980s."