Sustainability: Redefining What it Means to be a Green Printer
Print has profoundly changed the world, and now the printing industry is being called upon to profound-ly change itself... so that it can continue to package knowledge and goods for human consumption in ways that address the challenges of sustainability and climate change.
“Sustainability” is the conceptual framework used to redefine the way business is done by Fortune 1000 companies and, increasingly, it will change the nature of demand for printing services, printing equipment and supplies. While historically “green” primarily referred to environmental regulatory compliance, sustainability is a term that encompasses the “beyond compliance” environmental, social and economic aspects of a business, a product or a service.
Being green used to mean complying with the law and “doing the right thing” for the planet, whether or not it was good for business. However, the new green is as much about “doing the right things for business” as it is about doing the right things for the planet. Today, printers and their suppliers will need to rethink what they say and do about being “green” if they want to win the business of Fortune 1000 clients and avoid being at a disadvantage compared to proactive competitors.
Definitions of sustainability typically entail integrated management of the economic, environmental and social performance of business – often referred to as the “triple bottom line.” Most definitions of sustainability also include voluntary management and reporting of environmental, social and financial performance based on principles that seek to exceed ethical, legal, commercial and stakeholder expectations. Sustainable business performance is also typically defined in terms of a number of guiding principles such as accountability, transparency, active engagement and open dialogue with stakeholders.
Many manufacturers of graphic arts equipment and materials have already addressed these issues in their own operations; however, the new green will require them to redouble their efforts to provide their customers with information, education, solutions and support to complete the trans-formation of graphic arts supply chain practices into alignment with the principles of sustain-ability. In that regard, the graphic arts community is facing a “crisis of opportunity.”