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Commentary & Analysis

Greening of Print Study, Getting Serious About Environmental Issues Beyond Legislative Compliance

Xerox,

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: February 18, 2002

Xerox, HP and Presstek Lead the Way By Carole Alexander, Contributing WTT Columnist Carole is president of New York based, New Media Marketing At a special session from Seybold Seminars New York 2002 on Sustainable Development, Xerox, HP and Presstek showed their ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship. They became Subscribers to the important Greening of Print study being conducted by NYC research firm, Nima Hunter, Inc., for the printing, publishing and packaging industries. The study will survey how growing sustainability practices, including "the greening of supply chains" by Global 2000 corporations, will increasingly impact print-related industries. Sustainable development is "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (www.iisd.ca). Why are corporations suddenly getting very serious about environmental issues beyond legislative compliance? According to Don Carli, principal of Nima Hunter, the answer is that companies want to be successful. If you saw the movie "A Beautiful Mind" or are familiar with Nash's Nobel prize-winning game theory, you know that the highest level of success is often achieved by taking the course of action that is both selfish AND best for the common good. Sustainability is a process that does just that. It improves the efficiency of companies and the safety of workers and communities without depleting resources for the next generation and the planet. According to William S. Stavropoulos, Chairman of Dow Chemical, "Business ignores sustainability at its own peril. There's no way a business enterprise can survive as an island of prosperity in a sea of disarray. " If you are thinking this is about "tree hugging" instead of profit seeking, you would be incorrect. As game theory might have predicted, the trends are rewarding environmental leaders and punishing laggards. According to speaker Dr. Blair Feltmate, VP Research Sustainable Investments at the Bank of Montreal, the number one reason that companies create sustainability initiatives is the positive impact on their bottom line. Investment managers have noticed that sustainability development (SD) has a positive correlation with companies that are well managed. According to Feltmate, the funds consisting of companies with SD initiatives significantly outperformed the Dow Jones Global Index of 2000 companies. These companies are more efficient, think long term and ahead of the curve and are involved in a continuous improvement cycle. As a result, SD is attracting investors and increasing shareholder value. More than $2.3 trillion was invested in socially and environmentally screened equity funds last year, and Dow Jones has created a Sustainability Index that currently has over 300 companies. According to Preben J. Soerensen, Global Partner, Environment and Sustainability, Deloitte & Touche, "The idea is outdated that sustainability relates to emotional and ethical issues only and cannot be factored into a share price or risk premium because it is not quantifiable. …it has a direct impact on a company's financial performance." It so happens that sustainable development is good for business. It leads to innovation and new markets. It facilitates partnerships. Banks consider committed companies less risky, less likely to have environmental disasters or employee lawsuits, and will shave basis points on loans. Talented people want to work for companies that have a positive image and who watch out for their safety. Enlightened communities want the best companies as neighbors. In one National Geographic study, according to Rainer Jenss, Integrated Marketing Solutions Manager, 80% of buyers said they would purchase from a company that supports a course they cared about; 88% would switch for the same reason. Although some companies have engaged in "greenwash" which is trying to look good but not really "walking the walk," most are serious. When the National Geographic readership was polled in 1993 about whether companies were spouting environmental practices "just for show," 58% said yes. But polled again in 1997, only 21% thought so. Cause-related marketing has credibility today as companies look to distinguish themselves in a positive way. It is not surprising that 68% of Fortune 1000 CEOs say social and environmental responsibility are "vital" to profitability. And 500 major corporations issue sustainability or environmental reports. We all know that the printing, publishing and packaging industries are resource intensive--heavy users of energy, paper, water and petrochemicals. Is electronic media a possible alternative? Not according to this session. Alternative media is not necessarily clean or better, and print is still the principal medium of communication in civilized societies around the world. The message is that continuing to do "business as usual" will be a losing proposition. According to Carli, "The printing industry is where the mining industry was 6-8 years ago." Only one U.S. printer is ISO 14000 certified. Since companies will be accountable for the "sins" of their supply chain, corporations and large suppliers will be setting stiff requirements and many current providers will not be renewed. "The Greening of Print: Environmentally Responsible Publishing, Printing and Packaging in North America, 2002-2007" study will be a valuable resource. It will survey and forecast the impact of trends, levels of knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and sustainability practices on the industry. Due for release in July 2002, the study will also provide pragmatic information and best practices that will make the greening of print possible and profitable. Individuals who will specifically benefit are CEOs, CFOs, Strategic Planners as well as Marketing, Sales, Procurement and Environmental Health and Safety executives of equipment, materials and print services firms. As John Parson said in his article "Printing in the Green" in the Seybold Report of February 4, 2002, "Sustainable is a word printers must master. It isn't easy being green, but you have to try." For more information refer to www.greeningofprint.com. For feedback, suggestions or comments - reach Carole at newmm@optonline.net

 

 

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