Monday, November 10, 2014
Modo Fac (Just Do It!)
Environmental stewardship sounds impressive. It comes down to the basics of managing the business with a view to waste and cost control and environmental impact. There are loads of printing and publishing companies around the world positioning themselves in this way; sometimes they live up to the images they want to project, and sometimes they don’t. That matters less than the fact that they are trying to improve their environmental engagement in the first place.

Stewardship is too lofty a term and risks sounding really pretentious, especially for small businesses. It refers to the management, use and protection of the natural environment, so printing and publishing companies who want to take on such a massive challenge must first focus on their own impact. For instance the New York Times Company has made a public commitment to protecting the environment “in all of the communities in which it operates, and it continually strives to minimise and reduce waste and emissions whenever and wherever it is practical and possible to do so”. And of course New York Times journalists cover developments in global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, and most newsprint is produced from recycled pulp. This is big enough to be considered environmental stewardship.

Most smaller companies can start with less lofty language. For instance, printers can commit to using only paper produced by companies committed to the environment and to working with ethical pulp providers. Printers can also make sure that recycling is high on their agendas, and monitor volumes. Encouraging customers to use recycled papers is a given, and a surprising number of printers are finding this an easier sell as environmental awareness amongst print buyers rises. Using water soluble chemicals that are biodegradable and recyclable and reducing the amount of solvent used are other steps in the right direction.

Perhaps the most important thing for companies who want to be environmental stewards, is to set up programmes to reduce electricity consumption and minimise waste of all raw materials. Working with customers to raise awareness of these programmes can help to extend awareness of useful initiatives, and even their implementation along supply chains.

Increasingly companies such as the New York Times Company are boasting about their environmental stewardship, and increasingly these are not idle boasts. Simple steps may not have the grandeur of a stewardship programme, but they can make a difference nonetheless. Using ecologically sensitive packaging made from recyclates, or using materials that are easily separated for recycling do make a positive contribution to the overall manageability of print media’s environmental impact. It may not have the superficial authority of environmental stewardship, but it does have the authority of action. Doing is always far better than just talking about doing.

- Laurel Brunner
About Me
Laurel Brunner

Laurel has been in the graphic arts industry for over 30 years. She has worked exclusively in the prepress and publishing industries, with a particular specialization in digital prepress, digital production and digital printing. She is managing director Digital Dots, which provides international consulting and educational services.


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