Green is Good Business writes Veronica Heaven. She says printers and those in the wider communications industry will benefit if they do their bit!
There are many who might be surprised that Corporate Responsibility and sustainability issues have proved so resilient given the length and depth of the economic malaise. Although cost has become critical as everyone seeks to protect their margins very few are willing to compromise on hard won environmental gains. It is as if sustainability, like quality, is becoming the expected norm in the sectors represented by The Stationers’ Company.
That is not to say that printing, packaging et al hasn’t further to go as attendees at the Stationers’ Forum entitled “How clean and efficient is your supply chain?” will know. As one speaker pointed out concerns over reducing the use of plastic shopping bags at supermarket checkouts is only the tip of the iceberg.
This is a great opportunity for printers to throw off that image as a rather grubby business, to open a window on the world and to parade its modern, forward-thinking credentials, its clean and high tech approach. Shout about the use of Chain of Custody papers, the elimination or reduction of alcohol and chemistry, the better use of energy per 1,000 sheets. Embrace any means available to measure, monitor and reduce your carbon footprint.
There is no doubt that legislation has whipped up action on the environment. The latest timber legislation (EU Timber Regulation) is now in place and demands that users of wood-derived products, including paper, source products responsibility. That’s the stick but the carrot and, in my opinion, the key reason that environmental action has been so successful is that there has been a groundswell of popular demand for more transparency on sustainability issues as fear over global warming has spread. Large corporate and retail groups have harnessed and promoted that approach through their Corporate Responsibility policies.
The adoption of much more productive printing equipment and the rise of the more industrial printer on the one hand and the short run, response digital players on the other has created a very competitive “survival of the fittest” industry where the search to be leaner, keener and entirely scientific in their approach to print and also to commercial reality has taken hold. Because many sustainability actions lead to reductions in product usage, energy and waste recycling with all the costs entailed the subject has been helped rather than hindered by the downturn.
I left the paper industry over a year ago and set up a Corporate Responsibility and Communications business, The Heaven Company. I was anxious to know if there would be support in these difficult times. My fears were ill-founded. I have discovered industry and business (and I operate in a very wide range of sectors) is just brimming over with leaders keen to do the right thing by the environment, education and their communities. I have been involved with businesses across Europe and even into the Middle East because sustainability is not just a UK phenomenon but a much wider global concern.
Printers and those in the wider communications industry must build green issues issues into their business plans. Failure to do so will leave them limping. Sustainability is not a question of ticking boxes or gaining a marketing advantage. It has to be fundamental to the business ethos because it is the key to being efficient and in tune with tomorrow’s world.
Veronica Heaven is the Founder and Managing Director of The Heaven Company. She is a noted speaker, an Associate Parliamentary Group Member and member of the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group.