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Environment and Sustainability go hand in hand

While the public is putting more emphasis towards green solutions, the print industry already has certifications and measures in place. Companies such as HP are actively promoting sustainability and environmentally friendly solutions that adhere to standards set around the world.

By Sabine A. Slaughter

More and more manufacturers are driving their operations towards sustainability, introducing processes and operations that are taking note of the environment. While the environment and sustainability go hand in hand, significant savings can thus be achieved too. Conserved energy, reduced waste, elimination of hazardous materials are just some of the many topics that not only lead to a "greener" production but also to higher reputation in terms of future-oriented manufacturing that is valued by customers.

Consumers are increasingly interested in where the products they buy are coming from, their traceability, environmentally friendliness and health impact, the manufacturing processes employed as well as ethnic sourcing and transparency of the whole process chain. Increased globalisation has been shaking up the landscape of their mindset and made customers aware. A survey by UL names the supply chain as a significant priority by manufacturers whereby 88% believe that the supply chain management is becoming more important and 78% think that global sourcing is a means to improve product quality. While for consumers considerations such as product safety and quality are still high on the list, sustainability and environmental concerns are rising. For manufacturers and consumers alike environmentally friendly manufacturing is a high priority though consumers rank it lower than health impacts. The last being ranked lower from the manufacturers site, whereby improvements in this sector are ranked higher than importance. Both sides – manufacturers and consumers – are placing a high value on environmentally friendly products whereby consumers see a higher need to improve. The need to improve on traceability is ranked quite higher by manufacturers than consumers though manufacturers themselves are not placing so much importance to this topic as a primary driver of success. Improvement needs from the consumer view again is seen within the topic of ethical sourcing whereby manufacturers see not so much requirement for it. 92% of manufacturers in the study and 73% of consumers agree that product safety is a priority that is becoming more important, however 84% of manufacturers think that consumer confidence is increasing but 58% of consumers say that manufacturers value sales over product safety. 72% of manufacturers and 68% of consumers agree that consumers will pay more for eco-friendly products. 90% of the polled manufacturers say that the environment is becoming more important while 40% of consumers think that manufacturers are not doing enough in terms of environmentally friendly manufacturing processes or products. In terms of human health 61% of manufacturers agree that the impact to the environment is more important than the impact to human health – consumers see it the other way round: 61% put human health higher than the environmental impact. While 80% of manufacturers see supply chain transparency as important, 84% see increasing demand by external and internal stakeholders for transparency, yet only 42% of consumers agree that manufacturers do not provide sufficient transparency into their supply chains. As for country of origin both sides agree (80% manufacturers and 83% consumers) that it is important to know for products they purchase. Currently only 2% of manufacturers and 2% of consumers agree that ethical sourcing is an important priority.

However, the above is not allowed to take priority as to how to measure environmental impact and sustainability. And here, apart from the ISO and LEED certifications, the print industry should consider SGP certification as some of the most important marks shops can attain. These are recognized worldwide by suppliers, governments and all kinds of print customers, be it small or big entities.

In addition, increasingly print customers require their suppliers, so printers, to adhere to standards and certifications. Likewise suppliers from the industry such as HP are offering machinery, consumables and solutions that are sustainably certified. While some years ago, it has been on the lower importance list of companies – buyers and sellers alike – importance has grown from a brand and marketing perspective to integration into the whole business from building to processes up to the whole supply chain. Qualifications, certifications and regulations are becoming an important "must have" for companies. One of the first industry suppliers recognising these requirements is HP. The HP Latex Technology platform was developed understanding that the environmental concerns would become business concerns not just a marketing value proposition.

In terms of energy consumption for example, the US government requires equipment to meet Energy Star and EPEAT energy criteria. These are recognized to ensure a sustainable approach towards greener, environmentally friendly surrounds. Driven by both, increasing awareness and legislation, ensuring sustainability and minimizing the environmental impact of the company has become an integral element in business decision-making and planning activities. Environmental impact has also appeared as a key differentiator in the marketplace for print service providers who can validate their green claims. Not only does this offer manufacturers to achieve significant savings in their pockets it also opens up new opportunities for tendering thus increasing business.

Other environmental topics are emissions and air quality. Print shop air emissions can contribute to outdoor air quality (urban smog) thus increasing the already heavy burden the planet has to cope with. VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) are another heavily debated topic caused by emissions from homes, schools, workplaces etc. All these emissions that are impacting air quality around the world need to be regulated. Emission certifications like UL GREENGUARD and AgBB are not only a marketing hype but help the consumer in their decision as to which supplier to chose. HP Latex inks for example were the first inks that received the UL GREENGUARD GOLD certification thus proving that environmental impact is minimized when used.

On June 5 in the United States, Kaiser Permanente health group announced all of its new hospitals and major construction projects must meet LEED Gold standards. The organization plans to spend roughly $30 billion over the next 10 years on hospital and medical office construction. LEED is a third-party certification program and the internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. While unlike buildings technology products cannot be LEED certified, products that are or can be used in buildings are LEED certifiable. With HP Latex Inks and HP PVC-free Wallpaper, buildings are able to receive credits to LEED certification. From Kaiser is opportunity alone is 100 buildings who can use HP to help achieve their green building status. Credits can be achieved by for example sustainable purchasing of consumables such as paper, toner cartridges, inks or cardboard and much more that is LEED certified. At least 60% of total purchases by cost have to meet one or more of the following points in order to be qualified with MR Credit 1:

1) Contain at least 10% post consumer and/or 20% post industrial material.

2) Contain at least 50% rapidly renewable materials. Does not apply to HP Consumables.

3) Contain at least 50% materials harvested/extracted and processed within 500 miles of the

project. Does not apply to HP Consumables.

4) Consist of at least 50% Forest Stewardship Council certified paper products.

HP Everyday Photo Paper, HP Advanced Photo Paper, HP Premium Plus Photo Paper, HP Multipurpose Paper, HP Recycled Paper, HP Bright White Inkjet Paper, HP Premium Choice Laser Paper, HP LaserJet Paper; HP Brochure Paper, glossy; HP Premium Presentation Paper, glossy; HP tri-fold Brochure Paper, glossy are FSC certified and count toward the 50% target.

5) Batteries are rechargeable. All HP batteries, sold as accessories, are rechargeable.

Within the scope of MR Credit 2 in the LEED qualification fall sustainable purchasing and durable goods whereby at least 40% of the total purchases are Energy Star qualified. Many HP products are Energy Star qualified and count towards the 40% target for durable goods.

Solid waste management of consumables falls into MR Credit 7 category. This refers to reuse, recycling or composting of at least 50% of the ongoing consumables waste stream. Here HP has established its Media Take Back, as well as recycling programme via the HP Planet Partners programme. HP inkjet and laser cartridges, media and banners for large format printing/signage are counting towards the 50% goal for ongoing consumables.

MR Credit 8 category refers to solid waste management of durable goods whereby reuse or recycling of 75% of waste from those goods is required such as recycling hardware. HP has set another example here with the HP Computer Hardware recycling programme that counts towards the 75% target for durable goods.

For print shops and their customers this means that they can get LEED credit points for their buildings and materials used therein which can result in tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives. An additional benefit to the reduced environmental impact of their shops that themselves can offer their customers solutions achieving LEED credit ratings.

Another qualification printers should be looking intensely at is SGP certification. After five years it has emerged as an industry standard for sustainability across all platforms, be it digital, flexographic, gravure, offset and/or screen, and serves as an entrance ticket to several tenders that cannot be tendered for unless a print shop is SGP certified. Print facilities are audited through a third party and Certified in accordance with SGP's sustainability guidelines, which also require continuous improvements. These improvements, such as the integration of low VOC inks, landfill avoidance, reduction of energy and water use, and increased awareness and use of recyclable materials, are documented in each Certified facility's annual report. Many suppliers in the print industry such as HP are supporting the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership.

SGP certification encompasses all sustainable topics starting with environmental to H&S, Labour compliance; via the application of best practises for product, process and facility; efficient use, reduced consumption and recycling of consumables; training on use, handling and management of chemicals; minimizing waste; maintaining indoor air quality to minimize shipping whereby the whole supply chain is engaged. An approach that HP strives for also thus enabling print shops to get greener and outperform current regulations on environmental and sustainable topics that again are valued by consumers and customers.

1 U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating SystemTM. LEED is a third-party certification program and the internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. LEED v3 was announced on April 27, 2009 and includes Rating Systems for both New Construction and for Existing Buildings.

2 UL acquires certification (Ecologo & Greenguard) into their programs and pushing as international standards. UL is working with governments and industry bodies worldwide to push UL environmental certifications as the basis of any certification. We are actively involved with UL and their efforts to develop strong certifications that our customers and their customers can trust.

3 SGP is a non-profit organization providing sustainability certification in the graphic communications industry. The organization promotes reducing the environmental impact and increasing the social responsibility through sustainable green printing practices. To receive SGP Certification, print facilities go well beyond compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws. They establish sustainability management systems, implement best practices, and commit to continuous improvements in sustainability. Certified facilities are also required to report on progress annually. For more information about the SGP Partnership, the SGP Patron program, or the SGP Certification process, visit www.sgppartnership.org

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