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Spreading the sustainability message (part 1)

by FESPA | 20/08/2018
Spreading the sustainability message (part 1)

Laurel Brunner discusses the importance of spreading the sustainability message in the print industry. Members of the print industry can achieve this by meeting the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

We have heard it from environmental groups, brands, consumer associations, governments and of late credit card companies. They are all doing a superb job at emphasizing the importance of reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions through reduced environmental impacts. However, much more could be carried out. There is a huge opportunity for industry associations to take up the mantra and provide guidelines to their members.

Print industry associations, publisher associations, author and journalist associations etc should be contributing to the sustainability of the environment. However, only a few have any sort of coherent environmental policy regarding supporting members’ efforts to be more ‘green’. Searching sites online showed a few cursory attempts, but it’s evident that numerous industry associations except the newspaper and book publishing markets have any idea or guidance for their members. In fact, it seems that they don’t have a clue.

It is important to have specific policy statements for managing sustainability and the environmental impacts. They should cover shared concerns tailored to be meaningful for different member interests. All these policy statements should include an environmental checklist and should offer a sensible starting point for how to lower negative environmental impacts. Providing basic background information wouldn’t go amiss either.

Improving waste management throughout the supply chain should be a priority with suggestions on how to meet the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle to help cut waste. For example, for printed newspapers there are several options such as lining cat litter trays, papering a wall with favourite front pages, packing precious stuff for storage and transport, composting, insulation and more. Regarding books, the same idea applies, but with less perishable content you can also focus on reuse. Share books with friends, donate them to schools, care homes, hospitals, leave some at local rail and bus stations to assist bored travellers to pass the time. Books can even be turned into sculptures or some other form of artistic expression.

The key point is that associations in the graphics industry and its supply chains need to take the lead, share ideas and encourage their members to take responsibility of improving print’s environmental impact. The difference could be huge and may encourage more people to use print as opposed to electronic media. Knowing you are using a sustainable channel can make a significant difference to how you invest in knowledge and entertainment. It starts with the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
 

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