Commentary & Analysis
Partnering for Printing Sustainability
SGP is helping to define what it is for a printing company to be sustainable. Sponsoring organizations play a large part in guiding and supporting SGP. The following article looks at the reasons why some of the sponsors participate.
By John G. Braceland
Published: March 21, 2014
Last month’s article was about The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP). SGP is a non-profit organization providing sustainability certification in the printing industry. Since SGP is a nonprofit, sponsoring organizations play a large role in ensuring the organization will continue. This month I’ll focus on some of the sponsors of SGP and why they continue their support.
I interviewed five sponsors: Fujifilm, HP, Prisco, 3M and Unisource. All five organizations participate at different sponsorship levels. However, there were a few common themes between the organizations:
1) A strong interest in protecting the environment
2) SGP’s focus on continuous improvement
3) A desire to see the printing industry get greener
I was surprised that these same thoughts came from very different organizations. SGP was founded by a number of stakeholders, associations, printers and vendors. It is evident, after seven years of existence, that this organization has clear objectives and continues a strong partnership between these stakeholders. Here is some insight into why these companies stay involved.
I spoke with Girish Menon from Fuji. Fujifilm has had a long history of environmental stewardship. They were the first private company in Japan to establish a public trust fund, 1 billion yen, in 1983 that continues to disburse ongoing support for environmental efforts.
Fuji wants to reduce the environmental impact of their products. Because of their strong environmental focus they wanted to partner with an organization that could give them feedback on not only how their products performed but other opportunities for reducing environmental impact.
A big attraction is SGP’s focus on not just becoming certified and standing still, but each year reducing a company’s environmental impact. Fuji has a strong continuous improvement culture and wants to help the printing industry become better by that focus.
Jonathan Graham, from HP, has been on the board of SGP for a year. HP became involved when they developed their latex ink technology. Their goal is to have environmental sustainability in all products. HP’s feeling is that sustainability in the printing industry is a have-to-have not a nice-to-have. They were looking for an organization that would be an agent of change in the printing industry.
The paper industry took responsibility when they created the chain of custody certification. The industry was receiving a bad rap about paper usage. HP was looking for an organization that could do the same thing in the printing industry.
Similar to Fuji, HP is looking for an opportunity to interact with printers about the environmental impact of their products. Another big attraction for HP is the idea that being environmentally responsible makes you more efficient. SGP certification focuses on the total operating environment – again the continuous improvement idea. With more and tougher environmental regulations, being environmentally responsible will save the printer money.
Bill Malloy, from Prisco, has been involved in SGP since early in its formation. Prisco saw environmental regulations growing tighter in California. Plus, end users were increasingly looking for marketing solutions with low environmental impact. Prisco wanted to be involved with helping to shape the organization. They didn’t want to see SGP become a green washing or marketing group. They wanted to see an organization that could help the printing industry set a standard on what it meant to be environmentally responsible.
Prisco did not want printers to just pay a fee and become certified, or, just use the logo as a sales tool. They wanted comprehensive criteria as well as continuous improvement each year. Bill felt the severity of the recession slowed down certifications and some of the focus on environmental sustainability by end users. Now that the economy has stabilized he sees more reasons why printers should participate.
Mike Kesti, from 3M, has been their point person for SGP. 3M has a strong sustainability component in their company, which is good for their business model. Their primary interest is large format graphics media. They wanted to be part of the discussion defining what it meant for a printer to be sustainable. They also wanted to learn in the process so they could bring this back to their own product development.
3M felt it was important that SGP incorporate continuous improvement in their metrics and not be tied to specific technology. They are sensitive to the printer’s customers’ needs for an environmentally friendly sustainable product. 3M wants to have end users specify their brand because of performance and sustainability.
Andrew Gustyn, from Unisource, spoke to me about their involvement with SGP. They have been involved with SGP for over three years. He feels they have just scratched the surface of their relationship.
Unisource continues to promote environmental responsibility. They wanted to be involved with an industry focused environmental organization. The printing industry had no standards on what it meant to be green. Also, they were looking for standards that covered the operation from start to finish, not just in the prepress or pressroom. Unisource wanted to share best practices and foster a sense of responsibility towards the environment.
There are three different sponsorship levels: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Some sponsors are involved on the Board. If your organization would like to learn more about being a Sponsor for SGP, contact Martine Padilla, Executive Director of SGP at 310-809-6124 or firstname.lastname@example.org
It is clear from talking to the sponsors that they have a real synergy with SGP and are looking for more than just name recognition. These organizations are investing in pushing the printing industry to new levels of environmental responsibility.
Next month I’ll interview some printers to get their take on SGP.