Environmental Compliance — Being ‘Green’ Reduces Red Ink
“Great Printers Project”
In 1994, the Environmental Defense Fund and a number of Midwestern states released the results of a study called the “Great Printers Project.” In this report, numerous recommendations are made for “…making pollution prevention a standard business practice in the printing industry and beyond, and improving environmental regulation of small business to make it more conducive to pollution prevention.” That report describes a particular printer in Minneapolis that achieved real savings as a result of adopting environmentally conscious business practices, including significant reductions in isopropyl alcohol, solvents and inks. The total savings cited in this report, for this 60-person printer, exceeded $23,000 per year (and, that was in 1994).
There are simply too many examples of companies benefiting from an “eco-friendly” business model for there to be any doubt any more. The benefits are real, they are measurable, and they are significant. But the question remains: Are there costs to these steps? Certainly there are. These costs include increased record-keeping, training costs, some potential increases in materials costs and others. But, a careful analysis of the costs and benefits can provide surprising results!
Clearly, there are also marketing opportunities that arise from managing a firm in an environmentally friendly manner. Many print consumers are taking steps to ensure that their suppliers are operating in ways that reduce negative environmental impact. There is a large and growing segment of the total print market that is looking for environmentally conscious providers. Companies such as Starbuck’s, Nordstrom’s, Microsoft and others have demonstrated their commitment to socially beneficial business practices.
We believe this trend is likely to continue, if not accelerate. Especially with firms with a strong retail orientation and high brand recognition, printing customers are likely to be opting for more environmentally conscious suppliers across the board, as their customers begin to press for change. This creates opportunities that eco-friendly printers will take advantage of. But, once again, how much will this benefit be, and how much will it cost to achieve it?
Gerry Michael is a CPA/consultant who has focused his practice on the printing industry for nearly 35 years, first as the founder of GA Michael & Company, and later as Graphic Arts lead partner at Carlson Advisors. Currently, he is a consulting principal with the firm of Falco, Sult Inc., and works with printers across the country on management and strategic planning issues, and is a frequent speaker at industry meetings, and contributor to various industry publications.