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PRIMIR releases sustainable print study

Jun 4, 2009 12:00 AM


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In 2008, Pira Intl. conducted research for the Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization (PRIMIR) (Reston, VA) on sustainable print. The over 300-page study, "Sustainable Print in a Dynamic Global Market: What Going Green Means," delves into the impact of print on the environment. It investigates who is driving sustainability in our industry; reports on accreditation and other environmental management programs and systems; reviews regulatory and compliance issues; contrasts how print compares with other industries; and, discusses carbon footprinting and offsetting. The study also provides a number of best practice case studies and recommendations for all firms in the print supply chain.

Pira's research found that few companies in the print industry who claim to be “green” truly are, by its standard.

Printers might be FSC or SFI certified, and a large number of them recycle everything they can from their operation. But the study revealed that the more progressive firms have an “all-out corporate commitment to sustainability,” with full-time staff dedicated to that purpose. They also have made significant investments that provide a positive ROI, not only to their production costs, but also in new customers who are seeking a sustainable supplier.

The PRIMIR study also notes many corporate communications executives assume that using electronic media (e-mails, podcasts, websites or even television) are naturally greener. “The reduction of print is an easy target, but in reality, e-media alternatives have a far greater environmental impact,” they report. “In 2006, the paper industry was the U.S.'s second largest user of electricity, with consumption of 75 billion kilowatt hours. On the other hand, data centers and servers were close behind, having consumed 61 billion kilowatt hours of electricity—and that was three years ago. Since print volumes are declining, and the use of data centers is projected to double in five years, this is far from a 'green' alternative. Plus, the disposal of electronic goods is the fastest growing cause of toxic waste.”

The study concludes that the quest for sustainable print in today's dynamic global market, with downward pricing pressure, a global credit crunch, and escalating energy prices, at first glance appears to face an insurmountable challenge. According to the study, the industry needs to develop a new philosophy of supply chain integration, a partnership approach, and a more supportive and inclusive dialogue—along with education throughout the industry supply chain and the corporate community.