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Sat, Jun

Becoming eco sure

Manchester-based MediaCo has been ‘greening-up’ its operations for years and recently introduced a new carbon reduction programme called Ecosure that is supported by investment in two HP Latex 3600 printers and a HP Stitch S1000. So what is the company’s eco ethos?  Here’s what group operations director Stephen Arthur has to say.

MediaCo deserves to be applauded for its sustainability initiatives and achievements yet, when we last spoke, you told me “I’m not a sustainability evangelist, I am a business realist.” Can you explain what you mean by that in terms of MediaCo’s eco strategy?

From a manufacturing perspective, building a sustainable graphics business means considering all aspects of compliance, and as a leading provider we feel it’s also our duty to ensure we are at the forefront of sustainable manufacturing practice.

We now have a history of setting example. We achieved ISO 14001 back in 2008 and have since got ISO 19001, ISO 18001, ISO 45001. We followed EU Reach regulations from 2008 to 2018, and in 2015, as part of our sustainability development we invited the Carbon Trust to report on our business and we’ve implemented a lot of their recommendations. Right back in 2001 we started getting involved in carbon offsetting as a proactive commitment to improving the environment. And, recently, we completed the Eco Vardis sustainability assessment, at the request of a major client. The reality is they are increasingly looking at our credentials and at the depth and range of sustainability measures.

I raise these points because we aim to provide the client with the most up-to-date sustainable choice of product and be the most sustainable type of business they can choose. We are looking to reduce energy, water, ink use, waste etc. The reality is that sustainability and productivity co-exist.

The company has worked hard on its sustainability standing as you’ve outlined, MediaCo Ecosure being the latest initiative. Can you tell us more about the programme, and what part the recent investment in HP Latex and Stich printers has to play in that?

We created MediaCo Ecosure to show clients what we can deliver from an environmental perspective. The HP investment is very relevant because we’ve spent the last two years working with suppliers to make sure we know about all the latest eco media, inks, equipment etc. but it’s important to be able to talk about the whole print cycle.

We want to be very transparent and so Ecosure shows clients samples of product and provides them with data sheets, and we also provide our own sustainability cycle, which covers everything from raw material sourcing, through all the stages of manufacturing, to post print and recovery of waste and opportunities to recycle.

If you want to understand the MediaCo sustainability model let me give you some examples. In 2008 the factory used 95% solvent ink-based technologies. Today, with the HP Latex and Stich machines - and there’s another Stitch on the horizon - we have 65% water-based print production and 30% UV-based and just 5% solvent-based - so you can see the sea change.

Also, since we’ve invested in this technology, the HP Stitch has completed 103,000m2 of print, and it’s had a technical downtime of 3% - quite incredible. So, the performance and consistency is excellent. The two Latex machines, between them, have produced 70,000m2 and they have a similar technical downtime. I bring this up, because when you’re looking at this from an environmental perspective you think about the benefits of the water-based technology. But, the other, less obvious winner, it that these machines are incredibly reliable. The colour is incredibly consistent. It means that from a manufacturing point of view we are by default reducing generational waste and improving productivity.

If you put all that together, we feel we have a very credible sustainability business model.

For so long, so many printers have told me that when it comes to environmental concerns, customers are only interested in recycled materials and related cost. Do you think that’s finally changing, and how imperative is it that you are involved in having that wider conversation?

It’s totally changing, and unavoidable. And we have to recognise that it’s complex. It’s not just about the technologies, inks and materials etc., it’s about the whole cycle and all of those involved in it.

Customers are now more discerning, and the reason we created the Ecosure programme is that, at a glance, people should be able to say ‘Ah, this company understands all aspects of the sustainability model’, right through to what we call on-trend investment.

On-trend investment means that you’d naturally expect that if you’re keeping up to date with technology, you’re getting improved productivity, lower energy consumption, reduced waste through better colour consistency etc. That, in conjunction with our other practices, make us a more sustainable company. The story has moved on and so have our clients.

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