Offset printing and the environment

medium_laurel2015.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

We’ve presented at countless industry events around the world where environmental impact and the graphics industry are on the programme. But unfortunately, for the most part the addition of the topic to the agendas has been more about box ticking than intentions to make any real difference. Nothing ever comes out of these sessions, beyond individual interests for help with ISO 14001 compliance, or a pre-audit or a sustainability training session. From a business point of view for us this is fine, but from the point of view of making a tangible difference for the industry as a whole, this is far from fine. We need major players to take a much more active environmental leadership role.

There were some promising signs a few drupas ago, in 2008 when we first set up the Verdigris project. Drupa was a founding member along with Kodak, Ricoh and HP, but despite suggestions and ideas from industry Messe Düsseldorf has done little for sustainability ever since. FESPA has managed to find room in its Trend Theatre for the environment and has published its compendium of environmental rules and regulations in its Planet Friendly Guide. But that’s about it.

Sustainability leadership from major event platforms in the graphics industry is sorely lacking, perhaps because exhibitions have such a heavy carbon footprint. This however is the reality, so embracing ideas to mitigate quantify and mitigate impacts would be taking responsibility and leading the way for other exhibition companies.

The lack of leadership from major graphic arts events has however created opportunities for smaller seminars to take the initiative. One such is happening on the 24th September in Malmö. Offset Futures celebrates offset printing’s unique advantages and environmental credentials, and will explore future business models for offset printers and the market, based on sustainability principles. Speakers include several heavyweights already doing a lot to improve print’s environmental footprint and its reputation for sustainability. Top of the list is Evandro Matteucci VP of marketing and business development for Kodak. Kodak’s Sonora plate is cutting environmental impacts for thousands of printers around the world, as are Agfa’s Azura and Fujifilm’s Pro T processless plates. Steefan Vanhooren Agfa’s President will speak at Offset Futures too, and even Heidelberg is sending a representative. We’ll also be there talking about how the environment and sustainability commitment are becoming commercial imperatives. We’ll discuss what printers need to think about, if they want to stay in business and still be around in ten years time. Offset Futures is about survival in a new green world.

All across the planet seminars and workshops are taking place with environmental impact on the programme. To build some sort of leadership and momentum in the graphics business, it would be fantastic if speakers share ideas for cooperating. They could then go back to their companies and put together some sort of Mission Statement for the industry. Together the leading manufacturers and events organisers could create a shared voice to encourage all players in the graphics industry to engage more with sustainability and its commercial impact. Big brands and print buyers are already making serious moves to improve footprints, taking the initiative towards repairing the planet. These people are our customers and if we want them to keep using print, we need to be much louder about its environmental credentials.

– 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 Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

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