EcoPrint Counting Down

medium_Laurel_2012.jpegThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

In a couple of weeks the inaugural EcoPrint show in Berlin will be over. What will it have achieved? Well, we can expect the usual boasts about visitor numbers that exceeded expectations and how everyone at the show was an important decision maker. Blah. Blah. So much so samey. Why do exhibition organisers proclaim their own success based on contrived visitor numbers instead of boasting about what their events have achieved for the industry? Only drupa seems to have the courage to admit falling numbers. It’s all so tediously predictable. Anyway, back to the plot. We, ever optimistic, have high hopes that there will be much more than the usual tired vanities after EcoPrint. With a bit of luck the post-show announcements will take the form of some strategic insights about the impact EcoPrint has had on the graphic arts business. What will EcoPrint tell us about how the European printing industry and its customers really feel about sustainable print?

The market needs this show because it provides a single point of focus. This much we know. The EcoPrint show’s clever premise is to straddle all market sectors and to provide interest for all players in the print media supply chain, including media buyers, designers and consumers. This should make for some dynamic discussions and chats, but where will they lead us? All participants will be able to learn about what is available in terms of technology and services. How much spontaneious sharing and dealmaking will there actually be? There is a miscellany of opportunities for ample hobnobbing with peers focused on the same or related concerns. Will they be able to help solve each others’ problems? The list of exhibitors is a wonderful mish-mash of interests, from printing companies with their own cogeneration plants to recycled board and sustainable clothing manufacturers. Will visitors be able to see everything in two days?

There are all sorts of conference sessions planned for the event, including one that we are chairing to consider the importance of eco-labels, plus rather more tempting presentations from big brand owners. For instance Patrick McGuirk from Coca-Cola will be talking about how business can influence the behaviour of “Green Casual Consumers”. Intriguing, but what will it teach us? We do not know and cannot foresee the outcome.

Perhaps that’s why we’re so excited about this event. Whether the EcoPrint concept and sustainable print thrills you or not, isn’t important. What is important is that environmental sustainability thrills enough printers, media buyers and consumers to make it a matter of strategic importance for your business. How important and the nature of sustainability’s impact will only be clear once the show’s dust starts to settle.

– Laurel Brunner

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