Submitted: The Two Sides Team March 18, 2013
Global companies, such as Wal-Mart, are embracing some of the world's biggest challenges: poverty and hunger, population growth and natural resource management. They are serious about their civic responsibility to develop genuine sustainability strategies and initiatives that will continuously make improvements in the face of these challenges.
Nearly all of these kinds of sustainability initiatives, small or expansive, can be correlated directly to best practices within the manufacturing and procurement processes of printed materials, whether OEM stickers for products or sales brochures for marketing outreach. However, many times big brands don't recognize the opportunities for their sustainability goals to be achieved through their printing partners. And at the same time, printers are not recognizing the tremendous opportunity toward 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 Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) was incorporated and gave certification to the first U.S. SGP facilities in 2008. The original stakeholders included major U.S. 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 U.S.A., but facilities in Canada and Australia as well. SGP has also been contacted by numerous European facilities that are interested in adopting SGP certification. (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information)
SGP certification has been recognized by global brands as the printing industry's standard for sustainability best practices as exemplified in an SGP video with Sonia Collier of adidas North America: 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 2 SGP Printers; Delhaize America – now integrating SGP into their print model; 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 their leadership in sustainability with their 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 printers: Reduce Waste – 106 tons of material diverted from landfill by increasing recycling: $28,000; Reduce Natural Resource Usage– Reduced water usage by 145,000 gallons through discontinuation of an in house treatment unit, saving $5,000 a month in operating costs; Reduce Energy Usage – Reduce by 367,000 kw/year; 1.7 year payback cycle; savings of $25,000 per year in energy costs; Reduce Emissions – Reduce (GHG) emissions by 2.42 tons; and Recycling – Increased solvent recycling by 76% resulting in savings of $16,000 a year.
Through the awareness and advancement of better practices because of SGP defined criteria and certification, printers are seeing measureable results, and big brands are finding like-minded, sustainable printing partners who can help them achieve their sustainability goals. It's time for printers to become more aware of the exciting opportunities that a sustainability-driven business model can bring to their organizations and to their big brand clients. It's time to take action.