We hear the word “sustainability” a lot these days. But what does it mean? And why should you aspire to be known as a sustainable print shop?
First, understand there is no universally accepted definition of sustainability. Originally, the word referred to environmental sustainability, or the ability to support a desired level of environmental quality and natural-resource extraction rates for an indefinite period.
Since then, environmental groups have recognized that sustaining environmental quality requires peaceful societies with stable economies. In other words, businesses can’t become environmentally sustainable unless they are profitable (economically sustainable) and operated in a manner that safeguards employee well-being (socially sustainable).
Here are five benefits of becoming a sustainable print shop and steps you can take to make it happen.
It can help you attract, retain, and motivate employees. Millennials want to make a difference in the world and contribute more than just profits. According to a 2016 Cone Communications study, 62 percent of Millennials won’t work for a company that doesn’t have strong corporate responsibility commitments and 76 percent of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work.
An HP survey of office workers in the U.S. found that 56% are more likely to work for an employer that offers ways to practice sustainability at work. The survey found that employees look to their employers to provide resources and training to advance sustainable practices.
It can help you win more customers. Consumer-goods manufacturers and retailers that belong to groups such as The Sustainability Consortium are taking steps to improve the sustainability of their supply chains. If every company in a manufacturer’s supply chain operated in a more sustainable way, it could affect trillions of dollars of business and have a world-changing impact.
So, many potential customers might ask you fill out a questionnaire that highlights efforts to make your print shop a more environmentally friendly and socially responsible operation.
Questions might include: Is the product produced using renewable energy? Has the plant implemented any water-saving or waste-reduction methods?
It can save money over the long run. According to the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP), environmental practices can help printing facilities cut their operating expenses. In the Board Report of the 2017 SGP Certificated Facility Survey, 52% of printing facilities that achieved SGP certification reduced energy consumption and operating costs. And 62% of certified facilities significantly reduced their VOC emissions.
It can reduce healthcare costs and safety liability issues. Improving the environment and working conditions in your facility can reduce the risks of injuries and long-term health problems.
It can help attract investors. If you plan to expand or sell your business in a few years, going “green” can help you attract investors. According to a study of 22,000 investors in 30 countries, investing in sustainable companies is on the rise. More than 78% of respondents to the survey said it was was more important to them today than five years ago.
Steps You Can Take
Adopti sustainability practices that exceed industry norms. Just like many companies promise good service and high quality, many print shops now claim to follow sustainable business practices. And they probably do. But every print shop is different and can take different routes to achieve sustainable operations. Look for practices that go beyond what other shops are doing with regards to recycling, energy efficiency, and waste reduction.
Apply for certification through the Sustainable Green Partnership (SGP). The SGP is a non-profit certification organization created by the printing industry for the printing industry. It takes into account the sustainability of the entire print facility, including processes, products, and social responsibility.
SGP certification requires energy audits every two years, assessments for indoor air quality and emissions reductions, and the adoption of best management practices. Plus, you must establish a sustainability committee, conduct continuous improvement projects, and submit annual reports to the SGP.
Print buyers who want to hire a sustainable print shop can visit the SGP website to see a list of certified print companies and the products they produce.
Publicize your efforts. Post news and photos about your company’s sustainability efforts on websites and social media channels. Ask employees who participate to do the same.
Seek awards from third-party organizations. Nominate sustainability achievements that illustrate how your employees are involved in helping drive change.
Automate your workflow. A key advantage of digital printing is that many processes can be automated for optimal efficiency and minimal waste. For example, you can print only the number of copies that are needed at a given time.
With an easy-to-use use print-job estimating and order management program such as Ordant, your employees can spend less time on repetitive administrative details and more time on efforts to make your print shop more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. To schedule a demonstration, visit www.ordant.com