Still a Steep Hill to Climb

medium_Laurel.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

Ricoh has recently published the results of a short survey it conducted at EcoPrint last year in Berlin. This wasn’t a particularly long or detailed project but it provides an interesting snapshot of where we are with sustainability awareness.

The respondents were Ricoh customers in 24 countries Europe and the Middle East. They were mostly aware that reduced environmental impact is important, but their knowledge of how to do it “appeared to be low”. This is a little depressing, however it tells us at least that the industry has plenty of scope to improve its footprint. And the print industry is already pretty active and has cut impacts steadily for many years now.

Ricoh asked respondents to rate various criteria such as ISO 14001, 100% recycled papers and vendor recovery/recycling of machines, according to their importance. But how do you quantify something’s importance? Is it something that has great consequences for you, or is it merely significant for the industry as a whole? That most answers in the Ricoh survey were considered important, points to a general awareness at least. What would be more interesting is to understand why the various topics are important: is it because respondents value concepts that relate to environmental reduction initiatives? Or is it because they appreciate the link between reduced environmental impact and improved business performance?

Of the topics considered critical, FSC/PEFC papers topped the list. This probably correlates to the broader awareness and steady increase in the use of these papers over the years. Printers and their customers understand the value of FSC/PEFC papers in the supply chain. Carbon neutral printing is important for more than fifty percent of respondents and it is critical for an additional 7%.

Energy consumption and low noise were also high on the agenda. 64% of participants consider having the Energy Star rating, an international standard for enery efficient consumer products, to be critical or important. When it comes to other more obvious standards there was a surprisingly high rating for the newly introduced EcoLabel with 50% considering it important or critical. ISO 14001, the Environmental Management Standard, is critical to 11% and important to another 49%. This is curious because the standard has been around for many years. Perhaps it isn’t perceived as being quite so mission critical as the EU EcoLabel, even though this standard will be very difficult for most printing companies to implement? What do you think? Download the survey here: and let us know.

– Laurel Brunner

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