Sustainable Green Printing Struts its Stuff

medium_Laurel.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

The US based Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) provides certification to confirm a printing company’s conformance to specific sustainability goals. The organisation has now certified over 50 American printers for compliance to its programme. What makes the SGP initiative interesting is the range of criteria it uses for its certification scheme. It has much in common with ISO environmental standards, but SGP takes a much more rounded and hands on approach.

The scheme was developed by supporters of the SGP together with printers with an interest in sustainability. This is an organisational scheme framed within relevant local laws, so it looks mainly at the company, rather than specifically at the products the business manufactures. The SGP scheme specifies what printers need to do in order to manage their business sustainably and that the organisation produces products in an environmentally friendly way. Printers who want to get the SGP certification have to hop through a few hoops, but they are all sensible and can add considerable value to management processes. And they lead to certification which customers value. Requirements for certification are basically about confirming good business practises. A sustainability management system must be in place, with a dedicated group of managers. The company must have a sustainability policy, with documented oversight of its implementation.

The Sustainability Management System is along the lines of ISO 14001, the Environmental Management System standard. It adds a dash of ISO 9001 to guide businesses in such management basics as error handling and to ensure they have corrective actions to prevent subsequent nonconformances. SGP also has some product requirements, including design and management of input materials. The partnership encourages companies to manage waste correctly as well as processes that impact the environment and health and safety. Printers must also make an annual report of their progress, this too is in line with ISO 14001.

The SGP criteria are about helping US companies to improve their business processes so that they are environmentally and commercially sustainable. The programme has been well received in the US market and SGP is starting to spread its wings. At the end of October the group is hosting a “Community Gathering” for US print buyers and printers interested in further developing print’s sustainability. The event looks at best practises and sustainability projects and is free. It takes place during the SGI Expo in Las Vegas and will also cover sustainability advances made by manufacturers such as HP and Ricoh. The idea is to raise awareness for sustainability throughout print media supply chains and to encourage more printers to consider resource and waste management. The session will also provide guidance to help printers support customer CSR policies as part of a sustainability strategy for the graphic arts industry. If this sounds like it could be your gig, you can request more information from

– Laurel Brunner

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