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Graph Expo Goes Green —Morgan

October 2007
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In a recent Print Buyers Online.com Quick Poll of 74 top print buyers, 57 percent said that sustainability and environmental issues have become more important in their companies in the past year. In fact, the topics of sustainability and environmental sound practices—including green printing and social responsibility—are red hot. Everyone is talking about them.

The motives behind the sustainability programs are sometimes very altruistic. Not every buying company uses sustainability as a flag-waving attempt to get more business by good public relations.

For example, a well-known mega clothing retailer comes to mind. The print buyer responsible for its catalog recently contacted me about the retailer’s efforts toward sustainability and the challenges it faces. The company has made excellent progress, even though the publication world faces tougher issues because of the longer press runs and the limited Forest Stewardship Council-certified papers available. Despite meeting its environmental goals, it has not leveraged that success. In fact, the retailer asked not to be identified, stating that it likes to keep a low profile.

Developing sustainability practices is sometimes a very complicated business. It’s tough to sort out all the certifications, what’s meaningful and what’s not. In fact, there’s a new type of consulting and educational business, such as Metafore, that helps companies sort through the tools and information for companies that are seeking to buy or manufacture “environmentally preferable products.”

So, it’s not just about whether the paper is recycled and certified, and incorporating the chain-of- custody certification. It’s about being thoughtful about the environmental footprint of what we buy. Sometimes, the most effective solutions are simple ones that everyone can implement, such as better hygiene of our mailing lists to decrease undeliverable mail, thus wasting less resources.

It will be interesting to see if the sustainability movement will have an impact on the location of print suppliers in relation to the customer. In the food market, buying local is touted as a major benefit in decreasing the environmental footprint and saving energy. Will buying companies deem printers that are closer to them as more desirable? Or, perhaps will the location of the printer in regards to the end distribution point be more valuable?

Show Me the “Green”

Most buying companies are just starting to investigate ways to buy green, so now is the perfect opportunity to start collecting and sharing information with your customers. While every print supplier won’t be expected to be an expert on the topic, every printer will need to have some solutions to share. Even coaching customers on simple solutions for buying green can be of great value.

The small number of print providers that have moved quickly to offer customers environmentally sound solutions are enjoying a significant advantage and distinct differentiation. However, the fast adoption of sustainability programs by Fortune 500 companies means that any printer that wants to do business with the large corporations will have to follow a similar path. It’s time to start boning up on being green. PI

—Suzanne Morgan

About the Author
Suzanne Morgan is president of the annual Print Oasis Print Buyers Conference (www.printoasis.com) and Print Buyers Online.com, a free e-community for print buyers and suppliers (www.printbuyersonline.com). PBO, which has 11,000 members who buy $13 billion a year in printing, conducts research on buying trends and teaches organizations how to work more effectively with print suppliers. Morgan can be reached at smorgan@printbuyersonline.com.
 
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Most Recent Comments:
David Fox - Posted on October 26, 2007
[The company has made excellent progress, even though the publication world faces tougher issues because of the longer press runs and the limited Forest Stewardship Council-certified papers available.]
Perhaps they would have better luck sourcing papers that are SFI-certified and/or FSC-certified. Combining both product banks couldn't harm their efforts.
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Archived Comments:
David Fox - Posted on October 26, 2007
[The company has made excellent progress, even though the publication world faces tougher issues because of the longer press runs and the limited Forest Stewardship Council-certified papers available.]
Perhaps they would have better luck sourcing papers that are SFI-certified and/or FSC-certified. Combining both product banks couldn't harm their efforts.