Tiny Steps Turn into Strides

medium_Laurel.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

For many consumers battling with economic hardship, the environment has fallen down their list of priorities. But businesses seem not to be losing faith in such numbers. Those printing companies who are managing to keep their heads above water, have got the message the reducing environmental impact is also about reducing costs and improving efficiencies. Amongst the supplier community the concept of supplying carbon neutral kit is gradually taking hold and customers are starting to pay attention to their energy usage. Electrical meters integrated onto printing devices and related machinery are the next step forward in supporting these customers.

There are not as many manufacturers providing electrical meters as an option on their devices, as there should be. Surely energy meters can’t add so very much to the cost of a machine? Energy measurement is one of the fundamentals for measuring carbon footprints, so it would seem to be a must to have meters fitted. With a meter a printer can accurately measure the amount of energy used for each run, and after paper energy is the second biggest contributor to overall emissions. Heidelberg has an integrated meter on its Speedmaster XL 75 which works in conjunction with the Heidelberg Prinect workflow technology to analyse the energy usage of individual units for specific time periods. As far as we know this is so far unique amongst press manufacturers, but all manufacturers in our industry should be providing this option.

The option to meter energy usage isn’t just about confirming a company’s environmental credentials. Nor is it greenwashing; when it comes to calculating the carbon footprint of a job, accurate emissions information is vital. It is a key requirement of ISO 16759 (quantification, calculation and communication of the carbon footprint of print media) and without an energy meter emissions for a given run can only be estimated. Emissions values have a direct impact on the final carbon calculation so the more accurate they are the better, for all runs, short and long alike.

Printers whose customers care about sustainability, need to be able to demonstrate their credentials. Press manufacturers who want to support their customers’ efforts to reduce environmental impact should put energy meters on their kit, and ideally integrate them with workflow software. Carbon calculation is the next phase of prepress workflow management and control, and electricity meters are a logical addition to any device. Let’s hope other manufacturers and suppliers follow Heidelberg’s lead.

– Laurel Brunner

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