Over the past year or so, paper sustainability and reducing a business’ carbon footprint are the environmental initiatives that have come to the fore in the printing industry. Chain-of-custody certification under the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) programs has had the greatest buy-in, but green power has been coming on strong.
At Pictorial Offset in Carlstadt, NJ, its now systemic environmental program had a very personal beginning. In the mid 1980s, Donald Samuels—one of the printer’s three managing partners—saw a PBS program that showed a company’s maintenance staff dumping solvent out the back door.
“I thought to myself, ‘Gee, that could happen to us.’ As a result, we started getting very strict on what we were bringing into the plant and our maintenance practices,” relates Samuels.
One Man’s Garbage. . .
Donald, along with his brother Lester, started an informal process by going “dumpster diving” to see what the shop was throwing away. They were motivated by the thought that garbage is very expensive, he says. As a consequence, 300 chemical products were removed from the plant and it began recycling corrugated and steel strapping waste.
Pictorial’s efforts have been very much internally driven as it has logged a number of industry “firsts” in the environmental arena. Its approach is founded in the moral values of the company’s owners.
However, the process by which it realizes that vision was formalized in response to a customer demand. “IBM decided it wanted all of its suppliers to be ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certified,” Samuels reports.
This was a reference to ISO 9001 quality management certification, but the company came across ISO 14001 environmental management certification in its learning process. Gary Samuels, the third managing partner, thought it didn’t make sense to have to pursue the two certifications separately.