Many organisations see printing as un-environmentally friendly, but this perception is unfounded and is usually born from a lack of knowledge of the environmental aspects and innovations in print. The print industry understands that procurement professionals are under increased pressure to integrate environmental interventions. Procurement personnel across all sectors need to facilitate a shift towards sustainable production and consumption practices. Therefore, organisations are increasingly keen to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable sourcing by developing sound procurement procedures.
Print is traditionally viewed as an antithesis to an un-environmentally friendly process, yet with new technologies and an industry that is committed to raising standards, this is not necessarily the case. This is especially true when one considers the seemingly lesser environmental impact of digital communications, when in reality if you look at the facts, the impact of carrying out two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle, say U.S. researchers*.
Paper is in fact one of the most sustainable products we use, as trees are a naturally regenerating and renewable raw material. In fact, the paper industry has eight representatives in the UN’s list of 100 most sustainable companies. Today, an expansive range of papers with high environmental credentials exist. These range from recycled papers, which are made from recovered waste fibre, to Chain of Custody Certified Products (FSC or PEFC), which ensure the fibres originate form legal and sustainable sources.
The most recent development in the industry has been the introduction of Carbon Balanced Paper. Our paper merchant, PaperCo, has worked in conjunction with the ecological charity – World Land Trust – to offer this. It enables organisations to offset the carbon emissions in the production and distribution of paper on a per campaign basis. The World Land Trust balances the carbon by preserving endangered areas of tropical rain forest. What’s more, certificates may be available from the World Land Trust confirming the carbon saved and acres of land protected.
Aside from the materials you should consider, when procuring print, the firm you choose should also be able to show a commitment to environmentally sound processes. For example, we use alcohol-free presses, vegetable inks, and an in-line ink pumping system, which has been installed to reduce ink container wastage. All of the above should be outlined in your print suppliers environmental policy.
The ISO14001 accreditation is a minimum standard for the industry now, which is really viewed as a ‘must have’, but we do not feel that as a company we can solely rely on one process for environmental improvement and seek out other standards for us to adhere to. For example, we have just achieved the Carbon Smart Accreditation, which means we have taken a proactive and flexible approach to reducing our carbon footprint. It has made improving our environmental performance a part of the everyday running of the organisation- something we believe in strongly.
In summary, you can ensure your print requirements are procured with care through the following: –
- Stipulating the use of Carbon Balanced Paper
- Ensuring the use of environmentally friendly processes, such as alcohol free presses
- Asking that your supplier has the ISO14001:2004 Environmental Accreditation and is FSC or PEFC accredited
- That your supplier can demonstrate their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint through an accreditation such as Carbon Smart.