Another Green World

medium_laurel2015.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

It seems like everyone’s at it. Humdinger green plans abound, but some green initiatives are better than others. And some have more credibility than others. The ones that bash paper are the worst. If you read or hear claims that paper’s use is responsible for the mass destruction of trees, be suspicious. Initiatives that look complicated or that require dedicated resources can be viewed a little more hopefully.

Ricoh has recently launched a very robust sustainable products program. The program evaluates the environmental performance and usability of Ricoh products against various, as yet unspecified, standards. The evaluation criteria include energy and manufacturing resource efficiency, packaging recyclability and the use of chemicals in the product’s design. Ricoh issues certificates to compliant products, confirming their green-ness.

The initiative is the latest addition to Ricoh’s environmental impact reduction strategy, which has been in place for many years. The company has set a couple of key dates and targets. By 2020 the Ricoh Group’s total lifecycle CO2 emissions will be down by 30% and by 2050 they’ll be 87.5% lower compared with the 2000 level. The development of a sustainable products scheme and the associated certification program helps Ricoh to gather data to help monitor the company’s progress.

The usability bit of this program is not just about having snazzy and intuitive user interfaces. For Ricoh, usability covers the comfort of workers in an office or factory where the company’s machines are running. They mustn’t be too loud or generate too much heat, and they must also suit old as well as young operators, the disabled and able bodied alike. This category of references for certifications might be rather tricky to define, but it’s a worthy goal. Will it extend to those of us who are horizontally challenged, one has to wonder?

Ricoh is one of a handful of companies serving the graphics industry to have gone so far to ensure the environmental friendliness of its products. It actively pursues environmental awards such as the US Energy Star, Germany’s Blue Angel and the Eco Mark in Japan. Ricoh’s new program will start with office imaging products and production printers such as the Pro VC60000. The company will publish the results of its assessments and certifications, as they become avaialble.

Adding usability and environmental friendliness to the sustainability conversation takes Ricoh in a slightly different direction. It will be interesting to see how customers respond, and whether they too consider usability as part of the environmental impact debate.

– Laurel Brunner

The Verdigris project is an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. It provides a weekly commentary to help printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigirs is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, Digital Dots, EFI, Fespa, Heidelberg, HP, Kodak, Ricoh, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

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