Sustainability Becoming a Way of Life

It used to be that the market leader in an industry was the company with the biggest market share and the greatest financial clout. But times are changing and sustainability policy is part of the new barometer.

Some manufacturers serving the printing and publishing industries have long been heavy on the sustainability message. Ricoh and Canon for instance, both generous supporters of Verdigris, have a persistent voice, and Xerox’s is getting louder. These companies have a heavy presence in the wider office sector, so the breadth of their impacts is larger than the likes of Heidelberg, manufacturers whose interests are very sector specific. However Heidelberg and Komori are unique amongst the press manufacturing behemoths in that they publish annual sustainability reports.

It has only been in the last couple of years that Heidelberg has been so committed to reducing its environmental impact. It has for instance a policy to make all trade show activities carbon neutral, and now delivers carbon neutral presses for environmentally aware customers. Heidelberg is building a cogeneration plant for its factory in Wieslock, Germany. Its foundry site in Amstetten, which produces the side frames, cylinders, and bases for Heidelberg presses, is now certified to ISO 50001. This standard ISO 50001 outlines the requirements for energy management systems providing a framework for industrial plants across industry and government facilities. According to ISO, this standard could affect up to 60 % of worldwide energy use.

Tangible efforts are obviously important to encourage the market for print media and confound its detractors. But the intangible message in a sustainability report such as Heidelberg’s, and its supporting policies are almost more important. They are harbingers for industry’s direction, for how corporate values are changing and for how companies erving print see their role as environmental guardians. This in turn starts to influence customer and consumer perceptions, encouraging a change in underlying environmental values. Awareness of the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle, starts to become a mark of a developed society.

Establishing a company’s sustainability policy starts with a series of defined objectives for the enterprise, along with a few milestones and deadlines for achieving them, loose or otherwise. The implementation might begin with an environmental management standard such as ISO 14001 holistically applied, or it could be a simple policy document clearly communicated to staff and customers. First steps can be teensy weensy, because ultimately it all leads to reduced environmental impact. The starting point is now.

/Laurel Brunner

The Verdigris supporters who made it possible to write this article are: Agfa GraphicsCanon EuropeDigital Dots,drupaEFIEcoPrintFespaHPPragati OffsetRicohSplash PRUnity PublishingXeikon and Xerox.

This work by The Verdigris Project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.