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Commentary & Analysis

It isn’t easy being Pantone 347

Being green is the &

By Frank Romano
Published: April 25, 2008

Being green is the “in” thing even though the printing industry has been green for decades. We were collecting paper waste and using soy inks and cutting chemical use before it was fashionable. Film and chemistry are now gone and plates are recycled. But there are places in the world where it does not matter.

The permanent haze over Hong Kong is from Chinese factory air pollution. Vietnam also has a haze over it. China has special air blowers to cleanse the air for the Olympics. You would not drink the tap water in most parts of Asia.

We were warned in India to make sure the bottled water had extra security around the cap because some folks re-fill bottles from the tap. On the Queen Victoria sea water is made into drinkable water through desalinization but Cunard sells bottled water. Maylasia and other parts of Asia do the same because groundwater is so polluted.

Tourists are flocking to the islands of Ko Samui and Penang to find pristine beaches while giant cruise ships lie in the harbor.

China alone helped to increase the use of recycled paper because it buys so much paper waste from the world. When waste management companies discovered that they could make money at this, they quickly acquired green religion. Most of our old TVs and electronic equipment go to Asia for re-cycling.

We all should care and do something, but some of us still drive gas guzzlers and do not separate trash for recycling. I personally have sold my car and do not intend own another but this is not an option for many because public transportation is not available in many places.

In Singapore and London they charge a congestion fee to drive downtown, but it has not cut congestion. Some London cabs and buses do not use petrol. The congestion on the roads in Vietnam, Thailand, and India with cars, buses, and motorcycles is overwhelming. Try to park in any downtown in any country in the world. Italians have solved this problem; they park on sidewalks or anywhere else they can.

When I saw environmental activists picketing the hotel where a paper conference was held, I wanted to yell back at them that paper consumption is down because we all use the Internet -- and it takes coal and oil and gas to keep the Internet lit up. Go picket the guy who invented the Internet or AOL and Google.

Most of our packaging is now plastic and it does not degrade like paper does. Environmentalists do not seem to care about plastic because it does not grow on trees. An Italian company has a flexible packaging material that degrades and this could be the start of something big.

 

The printing industry is among the greenest industries but now we have to prove it with complex paperwork -- which creates more paper to re-cycle

I think we all try to do our share and it will take each of us to really make a difference. The printing industry is among the greenest industries but now we have to prove it with complex paperwork -- which creates more paper to re-cycle. The whole business of trading carbon contracts like bubble gum cards is being reviewed by the UN body that administers them. Carbon contracts remind me of Medieval indulgences that promised Heavenly benefits if you pay your money now.

Print buyers are becoming sensitive to this issue and their companies are insisting that they only deal with green printers. Industry suppliers are now racing to proclaim how green they are, while those who proclaimed it before it was fashionable are lost in the cacophony. I have allowed some companies to use a quote from me if they were green PG -- Pre Gore.

I have now seen the vast expanses of the worlds’ oceans and have seen dolphins and whales up close. I have also seen plastic cups and other trash that will float forever.

I am not being a cynic, just a realist. It is nice that we are all talking about it and some of us are doing something about it. But keep in mind -- “green” is now a business, because being green brings in the green.

Frank Romano has spent over 50 years in the printing and publishing industries. Many know him best as the editor of the International Paper Pocket Pal or from the hundreds of articles he has written for publications from North America and Europe to the Middle East to Asia and Australia. Romano lectures extensively, having addressed virtually every club, association, group, and professional organization at one time or another. He is one of the industry's foremost keynote speakers. He continues to teach courses at RIT and other universities and works with students on unique research projects.

Please offer your feedback to Frank. He can be reached at frank@whattheythink.com.

 

 

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