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Wal-Mart Has a Sustainability Plan, Do You?

MyPrintResource (03/05/2012) Whitcher, Joann

Running a sustainable operation extends beyond many print service providers’ (PSPs) paper and plate recycling efforts, and Fortune 1000 companies undertaking a sustainability program will require their PSPs to show with measurable data the carbon footprint of their printed product across the entire lifecycle. “Printers are completely missing the strategic challenge they are going to face over the next few years,” said Don Carli with the Institute for Sustainable Communication.

Carli pointed to “a disconnect [in the graphic communications sector] with the changes that are taking place in the boardrooms and the supply chain organizations of Fortune 1000 companies. There is a big gap to what PSPs are doing, and to what companies like Unilever, Ford and Verizon are doing within their own organizations and within the supply chains that address their own products.” Carli stressed the need for PSPs to become more thorough and exacting concerning the measurement and qualification in the performance of their products, services and suppliers.

An outstanding example of a commercial printer realizing success with its sustainability program is Monroe Litho, which has about 60 ongoing reduce, recycle and reuse efforts, including a wind-powered facility and its status as a Sustainable Green Printing Partnership-certified company. “We always tried to do lean manufacturing; we were always trying to be an environmentally sensitive printer,” said Monroe Litho CEO Chris Pape. “We were one of the first to go alcohol-free in the 1980s.” Monroe Litho recycles or reuses 100 percent of its waste, apart from food waste, making dumpsters completely unnecessary. In 2010, the firm recycled more than 1 million pounds of printing paper, cut VOC emissions by 28 percent from the year before and used more than 650 tons of American-manufactured FSC-certified printing paper.

Commercial printer Central Florida Press offers clients a carbon calculator, which lets the printer and client collaborate on reducing energy and paper use, ultimately shrinking the client’s carbon footprint and paper consumption. Meanwhile, Carli emphasized the need for printers to “think outside the envelope,” noting that they “often focus on paper, plates and printing equipment, but ignore opportunities that exist within their buildings.”