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Ecology at the insistence of customers
Sustainability is crucial for the entire production chain in the printing industry. It not only has an ecological effect but also is seen as tool for weighting the increase in energy efficiency. Hence, it counts among the most important instruments to achieve cost savings. Furthermore, many businesses are actively stressing in their PR work environmental commitments, creating a positive image in the process. Media businesses oftentimes invest in environmental solutions to satisfy their customers’ wishes. Brand manufacturers from the sectors cosmetics, ready-made wear and fashions, food and consumer articles, together with industrial sectors like automobiles, telecommunications, and large-scale installations follow their own ecology-oriented business guidelines. Thus, sales literature, catalogues, financial reports or institutional advertising as well as packaging can be deemed at the leading edge only when created in the context of a sustainable production process.
Innocent – One example
Especially customers for packaging materials frequently demand sustainable manufacturing practices in order to spread their own in-house message of ecological responsibility in tandem with their products—and to sell. A telling example is innocent GmbH (www.innocentdrinks.de or www.innocentdrinks.co.uk), which was founded by three friends in London and today has grown to 250 employees in thirteen countries, with an annual turnover of more than 150 million Euros. The leading producer of »Smoothies« (strained fruit juices) has as its avowed goal to “bequeath things in a somewhat better state than when found”, as their home page declares and repeats the mantra on its packaging: “For these reasons innocent buys their fruits from orchards where workers and environment are treated with respect, shipping the ready smoothies inside environmentally compatible packages: Since 2007, smoothies are found in bottles of 100 recycled PET. Year by year, the company shrinks its carbon CO2 footprint and donates 10% of its profit to charities.”
Sustainable business models in the media space need international standards
Print versus Electronic Media
In the graphics industry, not only the CO2 emissions from a printed product are of interest. Increasingly, the production methods of the electronic media themselves come under scrutiny. PrintCity has found that the electronic media are no more environmentally friendly, as is often claimed, than is printed matter. To begin with, electronic media use a great deal more energy, raising their carbon footprint more than does printer’s ink on paper; PrintCity quotes a figure four times as large. The PrintCity study also takes issue with and debunks the general belief of paper and cellulose manufacturers acting as energy gluttons by sporting ungodly emission counts. “Roughly 60% of energy used for paper production in Europe and the USA stems from climate-neutral, renewable resources and is generated by company-owned power plants”, says Rainer Kuhn.
A comparison between print and electronic media is something Verdigris finds problematic. Laurel Brunner: »Part of the problem with measuring CO2 emissions, for print or for anything else, is knowing where to start. What should you include? How long do you assume the product to last? How will it be disposed of when it reaches its end of life? All of these questions, plus many more, are relevant for both print and electronic media.« The people from Verdigris have looked into doing some comparisons as part of their Verdigris project, but from Laurels point of view a fair comparison would take a long time and substantial investment.
„Printers should be pushing their associations to take a louder more proactive stance. They should push for initatives, as to educate members and print buyers and to provide a communications channel to events that shape future policy and carbon commitments.“
Laurel Brunner, Verdigris, Digital Dots Limited