Environmental Compliance — Being ‘Green’ Reduces Red Ink
Print-buying decisions are the result of much more than environmental considerations. And, print customers rarely change suppliers solely because they feel it is a socially responsible act. So, it is very difficult to know to what extent new business, which seems to be derived from an eco-friendly business strategy, is really the result of those efforts, or whether the increased business is part of a bigger picture that involves other issues such as quality, price, customer service, etc., that play into the marketing mix.
Yet, such programs as certification by the Forest Stewardship Council do add to a printer’s reputation for acting socially responsible and will help to open doors at firms that adopt eco-friendly policies, such as those at Starbuck’s, Nordstrom’s, etc. But, opening a door is only a start, and being able to walk through that door still requires execution and delivery of a quality product.
This article began by posing the question: “How is the trade-off between being a responsible steward of investor resources and being a responsible user of environmental resources resolved?” There are no simple answers or quick fixes here, but the steps in the process should be clear. They include aggressively identifying eco-friendly alternatives, carefully considering their financial impacts, including the financial costs of failing to comply with current or future governmental regulations, and making sure that you measure both costs and benefits of eco-friendly decisions, including marketing benefits that come from becoming an “eco-friendly” supplier of print.
As a well-known and respected expert on environmental issues (and especially wetlands management), Kermit the Frog once observed: “It’s not easy being green.” But, we believe there can be significant benefits from adopting a “green initiative” for printers. The challenge continues to be how to identify, evaluate and measure them. It’s a challenge that can best be met by those who are willing to see the environmentally conscious movement as an opportunity—and not a threat. PI
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.