RIT Publishes Report on Measuring the Environmental Impacts of Printing

ROCHESTER, NY—April 11, 2011—A newly released research monograph—“Exploring Existing Measures of Environmental Impacts of Print: A Survey of Existing Practices”—from the Printing Industry Center at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) analyzes the results of a survey into the state of sustainability practices within the printing industry. The main objective of the survey was to establish a baseline for the current state of adoption and implementation of sustainability practices within the printing industry.

The research explores the state of sustainability measures within the printing industry in order to better understand the specific requirements and challenges that need to be addressed to standardize the assessment of the environmental impacts of print. It was undertaken by Eni Gambeta, a graduate student in the E. Philip Saunders College of Business; Marcos Esterman, Ph.D., assistant professor, Kate Gleason College of Engineering; and Sandra Rothenberg, Ph.D., associate professor, E. Philip Saunders College of Business.

Key findings include:

• An unexpectedly large percentage of respondents (27 percent) did not have a sustainability policy in place. Of the companies with policies, almost all addressed environmental areas, while the majority addressed economic and social areas. However, the degree to which each of these areas was individually documented varied widely. This suggests that there is a need for a more consistent use and interpretation of the term “sustainability” within the industry.

• With respect to metrics, a relatively large fraction of respondents (46 percent) were not actively developing sustainability-related metrics, while only 35 percent and 47 percent had reported activity on LCA and carbon footprinting, respectively. The lack of familiarity with some of the better-known methods for quantifying environmental impacts and certifications programs was also surprising.

• Survey results also indicated a somewhat insular approach to sustainability metric development and use, with a high potential for inconsistency. This is important to consider when one looks at how these metrics are being used. While 34 percent of respondents did not report any influence on decision-making, the remaining fraction of respondents reported a relatively large influence on marketing/image-related decisions. This suggests that consumers are being given information from competing firms that is most likely being developed in an inconsistent manner.

The report is available for download as a PDF.

About the Printing Industry Center at RIT
The Printing Industry Center is a joint program of the RIT School of Print Media in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences and RIT’s E. Philip Saunders College of Business, and was established in 2001 by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as one of the Sloan Industry Centers. The Center is dedicated to the study of major business environment influences in the printing industry brought on by new technologies and societal changes, creating a forum for printing companies and associations worldwide to access a neutral platform for the dissemination of knowledge, to share ideas, and to build the partnerships needed to sustain growth and profitability in a rapidly changing market. For more information, please visit http://print.rit.edu.

Source: release.

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