How fair are LFP manufacturers to their employees and the environment?

by Sonja Angerer | 21/07/2023
How fair are LFP manufacturers to their employees and the environment?

Sonja Angerer emphasizes the importance for printers to buy from ethical companies if they want to invest sustainably.

On the 1st of January 2023, Germany introduced the Supply Chain Act. This act states that companies must ensure all human rights are respected by upstream suppliers when purchasing material and machinery. This currently only applies to companies with over 3,000 employees however, in 2024 this will be reduced to 1,000 employees. Therefore, most printers will only be affected by the second stages of implementation.

What is sustainability and how is it assessed?

Printers who are committed to sustainability should consider how their suppliers treat their employees and the environment. The definition of Agenda 21 states that sustainability is a bundle of measures that strives for ecological, social and economic goals in equal measure. The 2030 Agenda defines 17 sustainability goals, including "decent work and economic growth" (8), "health and well-being" (3) and "sustainable consumption and production" (12).

Manufacturers can no longer avoid enforcing measures for a more sustainable workspace. Since 207, large companies and major subsidiaries in Germany are obliged to prepare sustainability reports (CSR). The obligation will gradually be extended to include smaller, listed SMBs in the European Union by the end of the decade. 

As early as the 2024, the CSR obligation will be applicable to companies that meet two of the following three criteria: 

  • Balance sheet total of 20 million euros or more
  • Net sales of 40 million euros or more
  • 250 employees or above
In addition to this, SMBs with over 10 employees are obliged to report their sustainability goals. By doing this, it ensures that they prove that they are creating fair working conditions and actively protecting the environment. In time making sustainable investment in fair and environmentally friendly machinery will hopefully become the norm.

CAPTION: EcoVadis certification can help identify sustainable investments in printing presses. Graphic EcoVadis: Via Epson, Background: S. Angerer

Fairness has many faces   

EcoVadis as a benchmark for sustainable investing 

Printing press manufacturers approach sustainability and fair employment in different ways. For example, some apply for a sustainability rating by EcoVadis. The company was founded in 2007 in Paris and has provided certifications for over  100,000 companies worldwide. The criteria includes:
  • Environment
  • Labour and human rights 
  • Ethics
  • Sustainable procurement.  
When a company is evaluated, it’s performance is compared to competitors in the same industry and are provided a score that is either Gold, Silver, Bronze or Platinum. Platinum is reserved for the best one percent of companies in an industry. Epson received the Platinum status which was only introduced in 2020, for the second time in 2022, and HP was also awarded Platinum in 2021. Canon holds a Gold rating, as does Konica Minolta.  

Corporate mission statements help printers with investment decisions

In recent years, many companies have established or expanded internal mission statements and codes of conduct. Typically, they also include the aspects of environment and fair working conditions.  
In 2015, the Board of Directors of the Durst Group adopted a "Code of Ethics and Conduct" for management and employees. This includes the pillars of "social and societal responsibility", "occupational health and safety" and environmental protection. As a Tyrolean company, Durst also wants to assume "social and societal responsibility for our environment". 

The HP Integrity Guide focuses not only the human rights issues, but also how employees treat each other. It also contains recommendations for action and decision-making.      
Canon's corporate philosophy is summarised by the term Kyosei. The term involves a balanced and future-orientated living and working together regardless of a person’s cultural background. Canon also aims to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by the year 2050. 

Focus on occupational safety

Manufacturers of digital printers must always comply with national requirements as well as international regulations. Konica Minolta, for example, received the coveted “Sicher mit System” and "Sicher und gesund arbeiten" certificate in 2022. The German “Sicher mit System” seal is an effective management system for occupational safety and health in accordance with DIN ISO 45001 and is awarded by the Berufsgenossenschaft Handel und Warenlogistik.

The Austrian AUVA quality certification "Safe and Healthy at Work“ is a certificate for companies that show special commitment to health and safety at work. It confirms that health and safety working conditions have been implemented in the company.

CAPTION: The Durst Group adopted a Code of Ethics and Conduct back in 2015. Pictured: Part of the company building in Lienz (AU). Photo: S. Angerer

"Soft" factors for sustainable investments are gaining in importance

For printers, the main argument remains surrounding technical features when investing in machinery. However, factors such as environmental awareness and fair work is likely to impact much later in future decision-making. This is likely to apply not only to printers with a CSR obligation, but to the industry as a whole.

This is due to the demand from print buyers who require high quality, prompt delivery as well as social and environmental responsibility. This makes it more difficult for printers to purchase machinery from manufactures with a credible stance on these issues. Therefore, investing sustainably becomes more challenging for the industry.

Main Image caption: f.l. Joerg Hartmann, Managing Director Konica Minolta Business
Solutions Germany & Austria; Steffen-Raymund Lübke, BGHW; Jiro Tanaka, Managing Director Konica Minolta Business Solutions Germany & Austria at the presentation of the "Sicher mit System" safety seal. Photo: Konica Minolta.

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