Becoming a Top Green Printer the Hemlock Way
That was an ambitious goal; it seemed a little beyond the scope of where we were then. As we thought about it, we said, “Why not? Why can’t we be?” Our final decision was that if we do it, we might as well do it really well. It actually happened!
We didn’t go into it as a marketing strategy or a desire to differentiate our company, but rather a desire to lead the industry. We’re pleased to see other companies—both other printers and our clients—focused on sustainability too.
Gail: How can a company make a business case for sustainability initiatives? How did you go about it?
Kouwenhoven: We’ve discovered that initiatives driven by a desire to be green often have a positive financial impact. There are many instances where we’ve discovered that what is good for the environment also saves money.
There are really two parts to a business case. First is the cost side. By concentrating on “lean manufacturing” you can measure results through waste reduction and process improvement. For example, by changing some of our processes, we’ve cut our waste pickup from daily to twice weekly and that saves us $10,000 to $15,000 a year.
The biggest improvement recently has been our filtration system. As a company, we had to deal with a variety of waste chemicals, water usage and discharge issues; those have been eliminated. We invested $70,000 in the system and the labor savings alone have given us a one-year payback.
You discover these things as you go along. If you try to build a business case to save money, you might never attempt projects like these.
The other part of the business case is the revenue side. It’s harder to measure, but initiatives like “Zero”—our carbon neutral printing program—and our FSC endorsement are all stories our sales reps can use to differentiate us as a company. How many companies respond because we are a green company? That’s hard to document.
• Define their sustainability strategies,
• Deliver a positive, sustainable image,
• Gain credibility, trust and respect, and
• Measure the results of their green initiatives and actions.
Gail is a nationally recognized speaker on a wide range of subjects and brings enthusiasm and a unique blend of experience to the podium. As an industry analyst and journalist contributing to publications in the United States, Canada, India and Brazil, she has covered a number of beats, particularly sustainability in printing and mailing, print on demand, variable data printing and direct mail.