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Environmental Compliance — Being ‘Green’ Reduces Red Ink

September 2007 By Gerry Michael
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IN RECENT years, a significant increase in the emphasis placed on “environmentally friendly” business practices has occurred throughout the nation. Caused in part by a national trend toward “eco-friendly” processes that seems to include all segments of society, this trend is likely to continue and even accelerate in the coming years. For printers, this raises a real challenge.

In the face of this shift in the national mood regarding the environment, which actually started back in the ’60s, how should fiscally responsible printing company management respond? How is the trade-off between being a responsible steward of investor resources and being a responsible user of environmental resources resolved?

This question can’t be answered in just one article, but I believe that there are a number of factors that can be considered here, which will help managers and owners address this difficult question. This debate has a number of aspects, some of which are obvious, some of which may not be. Some of these are financial, or at least have financial implications. Some of them belong more properly in a discussion on “business ethics.” But all are important, and all of them interact.

Obviously, we start from a simple, but very important, precept. Printers, like other businesses and individuals, need to comply with existing governmental rules and regulations that relate to environmental issues, or anything else for that matter. It is completely appropriate for printers to work to educate, and even to influence, governmental rule-writers.

Education and Influence

A good example is the recent successful educational campaign conducted by PIA of Southern California, which involved providing insight to regional air quality regulators who were considering implementing rules that would have been catastrophic for printers in that area. But once rules are enacted, it no longer becomes optional for ethical businesses to comply. Essentially, as I was taught many years ago, ethical behavior must start by not violating the law. That’s pretty basic, it seems to me. And, in today’s society, that includes administrative decrees, rules and regulations, whether we like it or not.

But is that enough? Is it appropriate for any business to conduct itself in socially irresponsible ways, simply because those behaviors are not illegal? And, how should financial impacts be added to the mix in making these decisions? We believe there are a number of issues to consider here. These include the following, at a minimum:
 
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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Pat Berger - Posted on September 23, 2007
Quote number 1 How is the trade-off between being a responsible steward of investor resources and being a responsible user of environmental resources resolved?
There is absolutley no trade off. Being a responsiible user of enviromental resources will result in being a responsible user of investor resources.

Quote number 2 What are the costs of complying with rules vs. the costs of non-compliance?
With proper training compliance can results in added profits along with cost reductions and the unethical law breaking issue of non-compliance should never ever even be considered.
The EPA and local governing bodies can assist in pinpointing RACT (reasonably acquired control technolgy) that is applicalbe. Once RACT is implimented in a given geographic area it is next to imposible to get it revoked.
I have been in this industry since 1968 and have never seen an environmental issue corrected that did not result in cost savings and adding positvely to the bottom line.

Pat Berger
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Archived Comments:
Pat Berger - Posted on September 23, 2007
Quote number 1 How is the trade-off between being a responsible steward of investor resources and being a responsible user of environmental resources resolved?
There is absolutley no trade off. Being a responsiible user of enviromental resources will result in being a responsible user of investor resources.

Quote number 2 What are the costs of complying with rules vs. the costs of non-compliance?
With proper training compliance can results in added profits along with cost reductions and the unethical law breaking issue of non-compliance should never ever even be considered.
The EPA and local governing bodies can assist in pinpointing RACT (reasonably acquired control technolgy) that is applicalbe. Once RACT is implimented in a given geographic area it is next to imposible to get it revoked.
I have been in this industry since 1968 and have never seen an environmental issue corrected that did not result in cost savings and adding positvely to the bottom line.

Pat Berger