Going Green Brings In More ‘Greenbacks’ —Michelson
THERE IS more to be said for being an environmentally responsible printer than it’s just the right thing to do ecologically for the sake of present and future generations. When properly executed and marketed, positioning your graphic arts establishment as a green proponent can translate into increased goodwill with existing customers and prospects, a healthier workplace for employees and, consequently, the potential for more greenbacks to fill your company coffers.
The paper and printing industries surely have a vested interest in being portrayed as environmentally conscious. From the deforestation involved in producing virgin paper fiber, to VOC and CO2 emissions into the atmosphere from pressrooms, to hazardous and non-hazardous waste generation, and sizable water and electricity consumption within plants, the graphic arts has a major effect on the environment. According to the Woodside Institute, the paper and printing sectors also constitute the third largest user of fossil fuels. Printed packaging alone comprises 30 percent of solid landfill waste in the United States.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) reports that Americans consume some 100 million tons of paper products annually. And, despite ongoing recycling efforts to produce postconsumer recycled pulp for the paper-making process, only 35 percent of current paper consumption is being met through the usage of recycled fiber.
Pictorial Offset in Carlstadt. NJ, is one commercial printer that proves what’s good for the environment can also be good for business. Since committing fully to becoming environmentally responsible in 1998, the web and sheetfed operation has doubled annual sales to nearly $80 million. It also holds the distinction of being the first commercial printer worldwide to earn both quality and environmental compliance ISO accreditation. And Pictorial is the first to be chain-of-custody certified by both the FSC and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).
Today, the printer recycles more than 12 million pounds of paper annually; has drastically reduced its VOC emissions; has cut water usage by 500,000 gallons per month; has lowered electricity consumption and received Mohawk Paper windpower certification; and is recycling inks, chemicals, rags, etc. Late last month, it also funded the planting of more than 5,000 tree saplings at a wildlife refuge to become carbon neutral, fully offsetting its plant’s CO2 emissions.
From a business standpoint, Pictorial’s environmental efforts are also providing it with a strong selling proposition. With a dwindling annual report printing business, for example, the company has captured several contracts to print sustainability reports for various large corporations, including Johnson & Johnson. Global companies are increasingly under pressure to be environmentally conscious and they expect print providers, such as Pictorial, to show the same environmental commitment. U.S. printers that are socially responsible also gain a distinct marketing advantage over their Chinese counterparts, where pollution and damage to the ecosystem are rampant.
We need to do more from a standpoint of education, supplier/printer partnerships and clearer, unified standards. But the benefits of being green are good as gold.
Mark T. Michelson