At the end of last year, the 200th firm was joined to the Regional Affiliate Certificate Group, RACG. This program, offered to all members of PIA affiliate associations across the country, was established in late 2010 with an initial group of 40 printers following the decision of the Forest Stewardship Council to allow group certification for firms with less than $5 million in print related sales. RACG is the largest FSC group in the US and is currently expecting to be servicing over 250 firms in over 40 states by the end of this year.
The cost saving program for smaller printers features a standardized set of procedures and forms developed specifically for the group which allows for easier and less time intensive administration. The group, initiated by the New England PIA affiliate with assistance from 2 additional local affiliates, engaged a manager with extensive experience in this area. They worked with him to create a forward thinking set of procedures and policies to support the objective of assisting smaller printers with the daunting task and cost of certification.
The group manager, Chris Gibbons of American Green Consulting, provides assistance, education, and oversight to the process and is responsible for visiting every location using a staff of auditors all dedicated to the goal of enabling the printer throughout the process and beyond. Different from the established process of gathering (or creating) documentation on one’s own and, then getting examined for certification, the RACG group model calls for training, education, and the establishment of standard procedures rolled into one enrollment process.
All current members have saved substantial costs over the single certification model as well as having the assistance of a trained, experienced manager at their fingertips. Most of the firms involved with the group are not of the size to afford a dedicated sustainability staff member and look to RACG for assistance.
RACG is a product of our industry associations working together to bring increased value to their members and welcomes inquiries from other printing firms. In many, many situations, the savings from the group have more than covered the costs of membership in the local association. Enrollment is quite easy and takes, on average, 6 or so weeks from initiation to being added to the group certificate.
A number of smaller firms have historically delayed moving forward with the process of certification because of cost. Now, with the savings afforded by the RACG model, printers are taking the step to become certified and are able to offer this advantage to customers.