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HP's Stephen Goddard on why it's important for printers to "green up" their operations

Published on March 9, 2010

More from the "Move Ahead with HP Graphic Arts" video series:

HP's Michelle Weir on the transformation of publishing and the growth of digital printing

Cary Sherburne:  Hi, I’m Carrie Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com, and I’m here with Steven Goddard, who is Environmental Leadership Program Manager for HP.  Welcome. 

Steven Goddard: Good morning. 

Cary Sherburne:  You know, we hear a lot of talk today about being green whether regardless of what industry you’re in, but particularly in the printing industry.  Why is it important that printers should green up their operations?

Steven Goddard:  Well, we see that for print service providers, going green isn’t just good practice, it’s also good business.  And a couple of reasons for that, it’s about winning more business.  We’ve got some great examples of customers who have gone out, they’ve made the effort to take a much more sustainable approach to printing and they’ve gone out and they’ve engaged with their customers, they’ve explained what they’re doing and they’ve won a lot more business as a result.  But it does seem to be the customers that take this approach of trying to use it as a differentiator to sell more rather than as an excuse to be able to charge higher prices, get higher margins that seem to have more success. 

Cary Sherburne:  You know, it’s interesting because I’ve talked to printers a lot of times who say, I say are you USNFC certified, or whatever.  And they’re like, this whole green thing, I mean, my customers aren’t asking for it and it costs too much money.  That’s not really true is it when you think about it. 

Steven Goddard:  Well, we know that customers are asking for it.  We know that in the sign and graphics industry for example here in the states that there was an infra trend last year that said that 43% of sign and graphics print buyers said that their purchasing behavior was reflected a preference for green.  It’s just that they’re in a tough economy and they are not able, they’re not willing to pay a significant premium. 

Cary Sherburne:  But can’t printers reduce their costs by greening up their operations also? 

Steven Goddard.  Absolutely.  And that’s not to say they might have to make some investments to go green, but we know of printers, again, here in the states that say by taking a more sustainable approach to printing, they’ve managed to cut their paper costs by more than a million dollars a year. 

Cary Sherburne:  Wow!  Now, that’s a big number.  Yeah.  So, tell me a little bit about some of the technologies that HP is bringing to the fore to help printers be more green. 

Steven Goddard:  Well, in the graphics business we’re really focused on two areas.  The first is the idea of cutting the carbon footprint of printing through the use of digital on-demand.  We did some work last year that tried to size the carbon footprint of printing and we came to the conclusion, it might be anything up to 85 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.  So, it was a big number, it’s a big deal.  Now, about 70% of that number was represented by paper and a significant proportion of that was just waste.  So, now today, I think about 88% of what is printed is done using analog technologies, offset **** screen, etc.  And there’s a couple of problems with those that help to drive this waste.  One is the printing process itself, as you bring the – you go through the make ready process, you bring the press up to color, etc., you may have hundreds of wasted prints before you get your first page of feasible output.  We know that 25% of books here in the U.S. are returned unsold.  We’ve got very similar statistics for marketing collateral, for point of sale signage, newspapers, etc.  And so we think that through digital on-demand printing, you can address these problems.  You can reduce that make ready waste often down to virtually zero.  And then you can print on demand what you need, when you need it, closer to the point of end you and you can also use the variable data characteristics of digital on-demand to help optimize the content for the audience that you’re targeting.  So it becomes more relevant too. 

Cary Sherburne:  So if you think about using an HP Indigo Press, for example, you may have one or two sheets or no sheets of make ready.  You have no chemistry, you’re not using water, you’re not putting anything down the drain, and you’re able to print versioned customized materials that are going to be more valuable. 

Steven Goddard:  Yeah, that’s right.  It’s not just Indigo Presses.  For example, last year we introduced our ink jet wet presses which are great for printing books or direct mail and **** also the signage and graphics side of things. 

Cary Sherburne:  Right, the wide format. 

Steven Goddard:  And high-end Sytex printers able to go up against screen.  And we did some research last year, which indicated that it’s often much more efficient to print with a digital solution again than with a ****.  The other side of what we’re doing relates to leading the greening of the sign and graphics industry.  Obviously it’s a part of the printing world, but it has some particular problems and are particularly thinking about PDC Media some well understood issues with the way that that’s made that it’s not economically recyclable, so it often ends up in landfill.  And then the solvent inks that often print those media problems both with operator health and with the wider environment thinking about the hazardous waste that they generate and the immersions into the air, etc.  So, we’re taking on the challenge to try to reduce the environmental impact of sign and graphics printing.  And a great example of that is a printer that we introduced last year which is the HP Design Jet, L25-500.  And that was the second printer to use water-based latex inks.  So the inks there, they have no hazard labels, no hazardous air pollutants, no special installation required and there is no printer toner either. 

Cary Sherburne:  And you still get the great quality. 

Steven Goddard:  You still get the great quality and the durability that you would expect with an eco solvent, low solvent ink.  And it’s an Energy Star certified printer.  And now all of the consumables of that printer are recyclable. 

Cary Sherburne:  Oh, that’s great. 

Steven Goddard:  So, the print heads, the ink cartridges, and the waste ink containers can all be return here in the U.S. and many other countries around the world via the HP Planet Partners Program, all for free for recycling.  Also we’ve got recyclable media for that printer.  Some of it’s just paper, and you can recycle that locally, but there’s also HDPE and PET based media and that can also be returned for free through the Planet Partners Program here in the states and other countries to ensure that it can be taken back, recycled, and be put to new use. 

Cary Sherburne:  Well, that’s great.  And I’m hoping that this discussion is going to encourage some more printers to look at greener solutions and help our planet.  Thank you. 

Steven Goddard:  Okay.  Thank you. 

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