Sustainability is a shared responsibility, especially in print. Printers must follow environmental best practices and in return, buyers need to do their homework—choosing printers that offer more than surface-level commitments and modest recycling programs.
When it comes to being green in print, most people think about paper recycling and inks, but true sustainability goes beyond that. It incorporates health and safety considerations for people, waste reductions for our planet, and increased efficiencies for the business and its customers.
So how do you know if a printer is truly sustainable? Choosing to work with an SGP-certified printer is a great place to start.
What is SGP?
The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) is a non-profit organization that certifies printing facilities’ sustainability best practices, including and beyond regulatory compliance. SGP is different than other certification programs in that it is a multi-attribute certification that takes into account the entire print facility, its process, product, and social areas.
Here are 4 Reasons to Work with an SGP-Certified Printer:
1. Alignment with Your Employee Values
A 2018 HP survey found that 56% of employees are more likely to work for an employer that offers ways to practice sustainability at work. In fact, sustainability activities such as turning off lights, recycling, and taking alternative transportation to work typically yield high participation rates.
For Millennials, the desire to work for a sustainable company is often a top priority when choosing an employer, and nearly 40% say they’d be willing to take a pay cut to do so. The same study from FastCompany revealed that 70% of people said that if a company had a strong sustainability plan, it would affect their decision to stay long term.
Unfortunately, most employees view printing as having a negative impact on the environment, although this is often based on incorrect assumptions. That’s why it’s important for organizations to work with SGP-certified printers. It’s one way to show employees that the organization is aligned with their desire to live and work in the most sustainable way possible.
2. Meet the Supplier Code of Conduct and Corporate Sustainability Guidelines
Sustainability is a huge priority for many of today’s leading brands and they understand the need to look beyond their own products and facilities and find ways to improve the entire supply chain. Data from a 2019 study by Refinitiv, shows that over the past five years, the number of companies with a focus on the environmental impact of their supply chain has increased by 44 percent and more than 50 percent report on the environmental policies for their suppliers.
This enhanced focus and scrutiny on the supply chain has caused many companies to create strict supplier guidelines, sometimes referred to as a Supplier Code of Conduct.
The good news is that the criteria outlined in Supplier Codes of Conduct and other corporate sustainability guidelines are often similar to the requirements met by SGP-certified printers. This can eliminate some of the leg work and research done by sustainability officers when choosing a new print vendor
3. Greater Efficiencies and Faster Print Production
Printers that have achieved SGP-certification have enacted robust sustainability policies that are built on innovation and industry best practices. SGP-certified printers look for every opportunity to reduce, reuse, and conserve throughout their manufacturing process.
For some, it means investing in cutting-edge print equipment, like Shawmut’s H-UV press, which lowers emissions, saves paper waste, and significantly reduces production and make-ready time. In fact, installing a more efficient and environmentally friendly press has helped Shawmut save approximately 750,000 sheets of paper per year which is about 1,000 trees.
Beyond new equipment, the SGP framework offers many other ways to streamline the manufacturing process, creating greater efficiency. From staff education and training to the transportation services used to deliver print products, SGP-certified printers see every part of their operations as a chance to improve. That type of thinking eliminates unnecessary steps throughout the manufacturing process—saving printers and their customers valuable time.
4. Opportunity for Long-term Cost Savings
According to the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP), certified facilities can reduce their overall operating expenses and those savings can be passed onto customers.
In the 2017 SGP Certificated Facility Survey, 52% of SGP-certified printers reduced their energy consumption and 62% significantly reduced their VOC emissions.
Lower energy costs can help offset the rising costs of paper and other raw materials used throughout the printing process. In addition, lowering VOC emissions can help printers reduce health and safety risks for their workforce—potentially lowering their healthcare or insurance costs. These savings add up and can lead to lower costs for print buyers.
Sustainability is certainly a hot button issue these days. We all know that our choices have a huge impact on our environment and the stakes are high. That’s why it's important to choose suppliers wisely and selecting an SGP-certified printer is one way to start.