- More and more print shops are establishing their own environment teams
- Support and training for staff and end customers are key
- Need for lobbying for print products
Environmental protection, like sustainability, is a global issue of ever increasing importance that also affects the print media industry. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) therefore played host once again to the international Environmental Dialog at the Print Media Academy on the occasion of the presentation of the second Heidelberg ECO Printing Award. Guests included the award winners and the print shops nominated for the award - in other words, companies that have long been committed to environmental protection. The participants discussed current and future environmental trends with Stephan Plenz, Member of the Management Board responsible for Heidelberg Equipment, and the members of the independent panel of judges. The entries submitted for the environmental award show a clear move toward fully integrated sustainability management. As well as print shops' environmental commitment, the importance attached to social factors is increasing all the time.
According to the participants, the next step involves saving increasingly scarce resources such as water, utilizing intelligent heat recovery systems in the pressroom, and above all allowing employees and end customers to play a part in the sustainability process. "The idea behind the award and the Environmental Dialog is to motivate print shops throughout the world to strengthen their commitment to environmental protection even further and to offer an international platform for sharing ideas and learning from each other," explained Plenz, who presided over the Environmental Dialog.
According to one participant, New Zealand, for example, is only at the start of the CO2 debate compared to Europe. And yet an increasing number of print shops there are applying for certification, while the demand from customers for climate-neutral print products - first and foremost from large B-2-C companies - is continuing to grow. "We're proud of using climate-neutral printing and being one of New Zealand's most sustainable companies in the printing sector," said Jenny Carter, Financial Director and Environmental Officer at Soar Printing Co. Ltd. in Auckland.
Participants all agreed that a commitment to sustainability pays dividends. A growing number of end customers expect suppliers to employ an environmental production process for print products, while state-of-the-art machinery and improved processes also help cut costs. "We process around 6,000 jobs a year and five percent of these are now produced using climate-neutral printing," explained Rob Nugent from Australian print shop Vega Press, which won the award for the top sustainable innovative solution at the Heidelberg ECO Printing Award. This proportion is set to rise in the next few years, as the Australian government is planning a CO2 tax.
Integrating staff and end customers is key
"We're passionate about environmental protection and are true believers," explained Werner Drechsler, Managing Director of the Druckstudio Group in Düsseldorf. The print shop has tripled its sales in the last few years and the proportion of jobs produced using climate-neutral printing has risen to 10 percent over the same period. A five-strong environment team with members from all departments and supported by external consultants serves as a forge for new ideas and putting in place a continuous improvement process. Employees are integrated and committed - this is one of the reasons why Druckstudio GmbH was selected as one of the 100 best employers in Germany.
The environment team at the Druckerei Lokay print shop in Reinheim in the German state of Hesse is soon to be expanded by "Social affairs and occupational health and safety". "Our vision is a code of practice for all employees, where fun also has an essential role to play in keeping people motivated," observed Thomas Fleckenstein from Lokay. In his view, the environmental management system based on EMAS III, staff training, and external activities such as marketing and customer support are key to sustainability. Ann Marie Keene from The John Roberts Printing Company in the U.S. - which this year won the award for most sustainable printing company - agreed: "People are important to us - we train our employees, produce a sustainability report every year, and offer our customers tours of the company during which we show them the printing process and how we can save resources. Our customers never fail to be impressed by how much paper waste we eliminate by using Prinect Inpress Control." Seminars for customers are a big success at The John Roberts Printing Company, providing information on areas such as paper selection and other criteria for direct mailings and offering suggestions and new ideas on how to raise efficiency in communications.
An exemplary contribution to boosting staff motivation was presented by Polish print shop Werner Kenkel Spólka z o.o. This corrugated board manufacturer and packaging printer provided its almost 600 employees with training on the environment last year. Now, every time employees log onto their computers, they are asked randomly selected environmental questions from a list of 500 and are only granted access if they answer correctly. The family business also donated 600 bikes for climate-neutral travel to work - even the directors cycle to work. "As an additional incentive, we reward our employees for good ideas. This cuts down waste and improves processes. There's an extra bonus for reducing paper waste in printing," explained technical customer service manager Radoslaw Jedrzejczak.
Need for lobbying for print products
One extensively discussed topic was people's perception of the CO2 footprint of print versus online. A lot more educational work is necessary in this area to eliminate misconceptions about print and "dispel the myth that printing is harmful to the environment," as Michael Keene from The John Roberts Company explained. Countless studies show that the Internet is not more eco-friendly. For example, two Google searches equate to the energy required to bring a pot of water to boil. The advantages of print include value retention and high-quality products. "I view print as a form of communication. We're finding that catalog production has increased once again and processing in this sector is of higher quality, featuring surface finishing, scents, and use of a very wide range of materials," explained Arnfried Sittner from Kessler Druck und Medien GmbH & Co. KG in Bobingen.
"Print also scores highly thanks to its high recycling rate. Customers are increasingly printing to meet actual demand and products such as reference works are switching to the Internet, where they can be updated faster than in a print version," added Dr. Achim Schorb from the IFEU (Institute for Energy and Environmental Research) in Heidelberg.
Participants welcomed the commitment by Heidelberg in offering a global platform for environmental protection in the printing industry with the Heidelberg ECO Printing Award. "All the companies taking part, the candidates on the shortlist, and naturally the award winners provide impressive proof that integrated eco-friendly media production is the future and the right way to go about reducing global warming and protecting our environment for future generations. Overall we'd like to see a common network that pools the activities of the various task forces on sustainability (such as the FSC - Forest Stewardship Council - or Media Mundo) but also provides anyone interested from other companies with the positive examples of the award winners," said Rainer Litty, Head of Print Production at WWF Germany (World Wide Fund For Nature), at the close of the Environmental Dialog.