Macfarlane states: “In most cases, pricing has remained the same as before. We work hard to find sustainable products that are comparable in price to conventional alternatives. In cases where the sustainable product is more expensive, we have found that customers typically don’t mind paying a slightly higher price when sustainability is a key goal.”
“It really depends on the rate at which cost and opportunity meet,” Sunderman adds. “Do green products cost more on average in the PSP Wide Format industry? With concrete evidence I would say, yes. Let me begin to explain why I think this is. Each industry is affected in its own unique way; large commercial print, versus, screen printing, and digital wide-format are all meeting different levels of opportunity and market pressures at unexpected times. Commercial print and screen printing uses a lot of set up sheets that either get thrown out or recycled, so here the opportunity is searching for ways to reduce your landfill waste and recycle, because in these forms of printing, you MUST make a set up sheet to ensure print quality. However for the digital wide-format industry the opportunity I see is the ability to print on a larger variety of materials. Specifically recycled content ones, and have no set up sheets in this process, thus, reducing waste by adopting this technology.”
Sunderman continues: “For many businesses, going green is a huge opportunity, however, customers are generally not willing to pay more, so as a company we must look at other ways to improve our environmental efficiency, to reduce our costs, like lighting retrofits to reduce our electricity usage, monitoring our landfill waste and tracking the refunds we receive from the materials we recycle.”
Other changes that may be considered are shipping and delivery processes used by PSPs. How can a PSP change shipping or delivery processes in order to increase green awareness?
Sunderman says, “Sometimes when we ship a product to a customer, we must think about the way in which it is packaged, and if we are using our resources most efficiently. This can be explained in the following example. When we ship one of our products in a box, that is inside of a larger box, to a customer, do we need the extra box? What type of message are we conveying to our customers if we don’t actually need the extra box? In order to streamline shipping, make our packages lean as possible. Don’t waste time with all of those boxes, just ship what is actually needed and leave out the rest.”
Macfarlane states: “We use significantly less packaging on our products that we used in prior years. When extra packaging is required, we use biodegradable bubble wrap and recyclable kraft paper. We reuse most boxes and packing material that comes with our deliveries. We order our supplies from the closest location possible and combine shipments.”
As the issue of sustainability continues to grow the marketplace will be faced with trend setting products and processes. Macfarlane addresses current and future trends. “One significant current trend that improves sustainability is the increase in the use of flatbed printers. Printing directly to rigid substrates substantially reduces the amount of waste produced, and the UV-curable inks have virtually no VOC’s. The durability of the ink reduces the need for lamination, which creates more waste and would be an obstacle in recycling. Sustainability is going to be more important than ever to our customers in the coming years, and certification from organizations such as the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) will become more prevalent as PSPs look for ways to communicate their commitment to sustainability.”