Tue, Jun

Endurance test results in

Martine Padilla, president of US-based printing strategy company Sophizio and director of the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership, shows how printers are now harnessing the power of their sustainability efforts. 

When sustainability is broadly defined as ‘global prosperity,’ encompassing fiscal, social and environmental responsibilities, the sustainability priorities of big brands vary -  usually driven by the impact of their own footprint. Goals for some companies include simple, passive initiatives such as ‘reduce, reuse, recycle,’ and for others it includes much better-defined goals including reduced waste, natural resource use reduction, emissions reduction, increased use of renewable energy, elevated labour practices and entire supply chain lifecycle analysis.

Nearly all of these kinds of sustainability initiatives, small or expansive, can be correlated directly to best practices within their manufacturing and procurement processes. However, often big brands don’t recognise the opportunities for their sustainability goals to be achieved through their print partners. And at the same time, printers are not recognising the tremendous opportunity in becoming a preferred print partner of big brands through their own sustainability efforts.

In November of 2012, the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) facilitated a Print Buyers SGP Awareness Survey. The results indicated that 25% of corporate print buyers would preference buying from an SGP certified facility, and an amazing 70% said they would if they knew more about SGP. This survey demonstrates that big brand print buyers are interested in sustainability, but it also indicates that printers are either not getting out and telling their own sustainability stories, or printers are not listening to the big brand community and their expectation is of transparent supply chain partners whose sustainability goals align with their own.

The SGP was incorporated and gave certification to the first US-based facilities in 2008. The original stakeholders included major US printing associations (FTA, NAPIM, PIA, SGIA), corporate print buyers, consumer packaged goods companies, and industry supply partners. At the onset, the mission was to define a ‘green printer’ through sustainability-driven best practices within the broad breadth of printing technologies including lithographic, flexographic, screen, gravure, digital imaging, binding, loose leaf and finishing. Today SGP is not only certifying printers in the US, but facilities in Canada and Australia as well. SGP has also been contacted by numerous European facilities that are interested in adopting SGP certification.

SGP certification is now recognised by global brands as the printing industry’s standard for sustainability best practices (see the video of Sonia Collier of Adidas North America at http://youtu.be/ ujyfvMQYvB0). Not only is Adidas an advocate of SGP certification metrics and third-party verification, but there are numerous other global brand advocates, including: Starbucks – now using two SGP printers; Delhaize America – now integrating SGP into its print model; and SGP is under consideration at Group360 Worldwide, Kraft Foods and PepsiCo’s packaging department. SGP has also received endorsement from Acosta Marketing, and Hasbro Inc. continues to demonstrate its leadership in sustainability with its in-plant print facility recently becoming recertified by SGP.

Printing companies, like most companies, are the most comfortable when being followers instead of leaders, due mostly to fiscal reasons; they wait for their clients to ask, then tell them what to do. Innovative printing industry leaders are winning clients and seeing an ROI for their commitment to sustainability through SGP, as verified through a 96% recertification rate. These are just a few ROI examples from actual SGP certified printers: reducing waste – 106 tons of material diverted from landfill by increased recycling saved $28,000; reducing water usage by 145,000 gallons through discontinuation of an in house treatment unit saved $5,000 a month in operating costs; reducing energy usage by 367,000 kw/year created a saving of $25,000 per year in energy costs; reducing GHG emissions by 2.42 tons; and increased solvent recycling by 76% resulted in savings of $16,000 a year.

Through the awareness and advancement of better practices - because of SGP defined criteria and certification – there is evidence that printers are seeing measureable results, and big brands are finding like-minded, sustainable printing partners who can help them achieve their sustainability goals. So it’s time to become excited by the opportunities that a sustainability-driven business model can bring to your print business and how that can impact your client relationships.

For more information on the SGP go to http://sgppartnership.org 

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