Becoming a Top Green Printer the Hemlock Way

Most people will tell you that they care about saving our forests, and the conventional wisdom has been to demonize the print industry as the major culprit behind “killing trees.” In the face of that common belief, Dick Kouwenhoven, president and CEO of Hemlock Printers (Burnaby, British Columbia), and his team set an audacious goal—to become the “greenest printer in the world.”

Hemlock did it! In 2009, the company received the “International 2008 Heidelberg Eco Printing Award for Most Sustainable Printing Company!” And, in 2010, Hemlock was named the “Most Environmentally Progressive Printer in Canada” for the fifth consecutive year.

This week, Dick Kouwenhoven shares how Hemlock Printers made the decision to become the “Greenest Printer in the World” and how other companies can make a business case for sustainability initiatives.

Gail: People perceive the printing industry to be antithetical to “green” business. When Hemlock started down this path a few years ago, how did you arrive at the decision to become the greenest printer in North America—and the world? Was the impetus to “go green” a top-down or bottom-up movement? Both?

Kouwenhoven: The original focus came from the top down, but it didn’t take long for a very active internal group to take over. We really kicked off our green focus in 2004 with our Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. While it’s fairly common to printers now, we were an early adopter and that lead us to think about sustainability as a business strategy.

That led us to create the committee that developed our first environmental policy. As we set our goals to reflect the values of the company, the committee said, “Let’s set the standard internationally for green printing…for environmentally progressive printing.” It came out of a sincere desire to be a responsible business and to address our environmental footprint.

A business adviser and problem solver, Gail is managing director of Business Strategies Etc., which provides strategic marketing and business planning services and manages the execution of marketing communications tactics that help companies:
• Define their sustainability strategies,
• Deliver a positive, sustainable image,
• Gain credibility, trust and respect, and
• Measure the results of their green initiatives and actions.

Gail is a nationally recognized speaker on a wide range of subjects and brings enthusiasm and a unique blend of experience to the podium. As an industry analyst and journalist contributing to publications in the United States, Canada, India and Brazil, she has covered a number of beats, particularly sustainability in printing and mailing, print on demand, variable data printing and direct mail.
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  • http://JackMiller Jack Miller

    Thanks, Gail. Good piece on Hemlock. When I was at Domtar, Dick was on our Printer Advisory Council. He was out in front of “green printing” and was on board early with Domtar and FSC.

    There is so much misinformation on paper – from all sides – that it is very disturbing. Hemlock is doing what makes sense.