Spreading the sustainability message – Part 1

The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

We’ve heard it from brands, environmental groups, consumer associations and governments and more recently credit card companies. They are all doing a great job at communicating the need to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions through reduced environmental impacts. But much more could be done and we see a massive opportunity for industry associations to take up the mantra and provide guidelines for their members.

Print industry associations, publishers associations, author and journalists associations et al, should be doing their bit for the environment. But relatively few have any sort of coherent policy when it comes to supporting members’ aspirations to be more green. Trawling sites online dragged up a few cursory attempts, but it’s clear that many industry associations, say for the newspaper sector or for book publishing, have any solid ideas or guidance for their members. In fact it looks like they haven’t a clue.

We need sector specific policy statements for managing environmental impact and sustainability and they should cover shared concerns, tweaked to be meaningful for different member interests. All of these policy statements should include an environmental checklist, and should provide a sensible starting point for how to reduce negative environmental impacts. A bit of basic background wouldn’t go amiss either.

Top of the list should be improving waste management throughout the supply chain, with suggestions for how to meet the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in order to cut waste. For printed newspapers, for instance, there are plenty of options, such as lining cat litter trays, packing precious stuff for storage or transport, papering a wall with favourite front pages, composting, insulation, starting fires and barbeques, sorting for recycling and so on. For books the same ideas apply, but with less perishable content you can also focus on reuse. Share books with friends; donate them to schools, hospitals and care homes; leave a few tomes at local rail and bus stations to help bored travellers to wile away the time; and use them to prop up wonky furniture. They can even be turned into sculptures or some other form of artistic expression. 

The point here is for associations in the graphics industry and its supply chains to take a leadership position, share ideas and encourage members to take ownership of improving print’s environmental impact. The difference could be substantial and might encourage more people to use print instead of electronic media. Knowing that they are using a sustainable channel can make a huge difference to how they invest in knowledge and entertainment. It starts with the three Rs.

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa GraphicsEFIFespaHPKodakKornitRicohSpindrift, Splash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon.

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