Given all the issues swarming about the modern print provider’s operation—the economy, the Internet, the jump to digital, staffing, government regulations, the U.S. Post Office—developing a sustainability policy is probably not at the top of your to-do list. You might want to rethink that...
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Given all the issues swarming about the modern print provider’s operation—the economy, the Internet, the jump to digital, staffing, government regulations, the U.S. Post Office—developing a sustainability policy is probably not at the top of your to-do list.
You might want to rethink that, say sustainability evangelists.
First, more and more of your print buyers (look to Walmart, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble) seek out business partners that share their goals of sustainability. Competition being what it is, it is just as easy for a CPG or SMB to engage a print service provider with a sustainable policy in place as to use one that doesn’t have such a plan.
“Nearly all major corporations, government agencies, and school systems now have some sort of sustainable purchasing guidelines,” notes Barbara Close, Corporate Strategy and Operations Consultant with Princeton Sustainability Advisors, a consultancy advising leading companies on green business growth strategies.
“Skirting these preferences puts any supplier at a disadvantage, and (environmental) compliance should be considered the minimal action,” adds Close.
While there are no guarantees as to whether customers will automatically gravitate towards your company once sustainability has been established as a corporate goal, there are other benefits.
Squeezing Out Waste
“Finding ways to operate your business in more cost-efficient ways, driven largely by sleuthing for environmental impact reductions, will ultimately strengthen your financials that keep you positioned for advantaged growth,” she says.
The reason being that one of the main tenets of a sustainability policy is squeezing all unnecessary costs—waste—out of your operation.
For companies looking to embrace sustainability, one approach is to become certified by the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership Program. This program, which provides the framework for development of a sustainable business, and has the added value of certification from a third party auditor, applies best practices from other similar programs and stakeholder input from the Printing Industries of America, Specialty Graphic Imaging Association, Flexographic Technical Association, and National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers.
“Companies that have become certified under the SGP program (and there is an 88% recertification rate) have found that adoption of the criteria established under the program can reduce short-term costs and position the organization for greater margins in the long-run,” reports Marcia Kinter, vice president, Government & Business Information, SGIA.
“As a whole, SGP Certified facilities are more equipped to handle uncertain economic times, during the long-term, because economic and environmental performance is positively linked,” adds Kinter.
Monroe Litho, based in Rochester, N.Y., has embraced sustainability whole hog, receiving SGP certification, and named an Environmental Leader by New York State and an Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partner—it’s 100% wind-powered. The company swears by its sustainability policy, which has helped the bottom line—all “waste” is either reused or recycled, eliminating the typical associative costs—as well as bringing in customers who appreciate the company’s policies.
One thing to keep in mind is what is meant by sustainability. Often what comes to mind when sustainability is discussed is environmental compliance, which in itself can be a daunting task to undertake.
In its broadest sense, however, sustainability looks beyond the environmental to social issues to economic to diversity issues, says Don Carli, a senior research fellow with the Institute for Sustainable Communication. The nonprofit’s mission is to “raise awareness, build capacity and foster the widespread adoption of economically viable, environmentally restorative and socially constructive uses of print and digital media.”