Toshiba Irks Printing Community with No-Print Day
PITTSBURGH—Toshiba's heart may have been in the right place, but many members of the commercial printing community are suggesting that the company's collective head is a bit off kilter in light of Toshiba America Business Solutions' announced National No-Print Day, slated for Oct. 23.
“Needless to say, we find such a proposal ridiculous and an insult to the more than 800,000 Americans who owe their direct livelihood to our industry,” said Michael Makin, president and CEO of Printing Industries of America.
The Toshiba campaign purports to encourage, educate and challenge individuals and companies to commit to one day of no printing and raise the awareness of the impact printing has on the planet. The company sells, among other things, copiers and printers to the business office space.
“Toshiba claims that our industry has failed ‘to make the link between printing waste and its negative impacts on our landfills, natural resources and the environment,' " Makin added. “Our industry has long led the way utilizing sustainable processes. The primary raw material for printing is paper, which comes from trees, which are a renewable resource—so renewable that today, our country has 20 percent more trees than it did on the first Earth Day, which was held more than 40 years ago.
“Printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint—all other media require energy every time they are viewed. Electronic devices, which Toshiba produces, for example, require the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, as well as the use of plastics, hydrocarbon solvents, and other non-renewable resources. Moreover 50–80 percent of electronic waste collected for recycling is shipped overseas and is often unsafely dismantled. For Toshiba to call for such a ban on printing is hypocritical to say the least."
The Toshiba campaign also irked Two Sides U.S. and U.K., an independent, non-profit organization created to provide members of the graphic communications supply chain a forum to promote the responsible production and use of print and paper, improve sustainability standards and practices, share experiences and maximize customer confidence in its products.
Among the inconsistencies and inaccuracies Two Sides noted in a scathing indictment of Toshiba:
• Toshiba seems to have ignored the environmental impact of electronic communications. Just saying you are eliminating print and paper really does not mean you are necessarily helping the planet. It’s a lot more complex than that. If the alternative is, for example, electronic communication, then what is the environmental impact of this? Greenpeace has identified electronic waste as the fastest growing component of the municipal waste steam.
• Toshiba has linked paper use to deforestation (or killing trees and destroying forests) when, in fact, responsibly made paper can be a sustainable way to communicate. Paper is a highly recycled commodity in Europe, with a recycling rate approaching 70 percent. Does Toshiba recycle their products so effectively? We think not.
• Paper is based on wood, a natural and renewable material. Electronic equipment, ink and toner cartridges, including those with the Toshiba brand, are made mostly from non-renewable resources and are not so easily recycled. Has Toshiba considered the life cycle of all their own products before professing expertise on others?
Noted publication industry blog Dead Tree Edition took an irreverent poke at Toshiba's No-Print campaign, which includes a video of a Toshiba employee in a tree suit marking the date on his paper calendar ("Dude, that could be your cousin you're writing on"). The blog also noted that Toshiba exhibited at drupa last month, and succinctly asked, "Why is it necessarily better for the planet to read a report on an electricity-burning computer than on sheets of paper?"