Certification: What’s in it for you?
The world’s getting greener: Programs, certifications, processes and products relating to green manufacturing and sustainability keep multiplying…making it harder than ever for printers to weigh which programs and certifications are a good fit.
One big challenge: How to demonstrate the value of sustainable printing methods to your customers. Another: How to help your customers make their commitments to the environment more visible. Read on for a look at each of these areas, along with action steps and tips.
How printing companies perform in terms of sustainability increasingly drives both competitiveness and profitability, says a recent study by Rochester Institute of Technology. The “proof” of green practices most often claimed by printers is certification by a third party to accepted standards. It takes effort, but the silver lining is that by investing in certifications and voluntary programs, you can help your customers demonstrate their own participation in sustainable solutions, too.
Facility, product, process
Certifications fall into three core areas: your facility, the products you use in the printing process, and the process itself. One way to get started is to conduct an audit of your current facility and your processes. Most of the major certifications for printers relate to energy use, paper attributes, water use, and processes (including inks and solvents) — these are all good starting points to audit.
Benefits for your customers, benefits for you
More print buyers are focusing on sustainability. The increased attention is driven by shareholders, corporate sustainability policies, regulatory pressures, international standards and tax benefits. What’s to be gained? Customer loyalty, public credibility and investor confidence are all benefits companies can expect when they’re perceived to be doing things right.
The digital advantage
The good news for digital printers is that the technology of digital printing is inherently sustainable. Practices such as web-to-print support virtual warehousing. Data-driven campaigns reduce waste through more precise targeting, and studies show that response rates are much higher on variable print campaigns vs. the mass-market approach of blanketing a demographic. The more you embrace responsible printing methods, the more we reinforce to our customers the reality that print is an environmentally friendly medium.
Stand up for sustainability
Showcasing your own certifications and initiatives to your customers helps to underscore your commitment to good citizenship and good business.
Be sure to highlight:
• Suppliers you use who are committed to sustainable practices
• Tangible evidence of sustainability savings.
• Recognition by third parties (paper companies, environmental groups, print industry/design associations) for your award winning projects and programs
• Corporate citizenship (contribute to local or regional environmental initiatives or educational programs in your community)
Some printers choose to focus on a core initiative and use this to help expand their brand. For example, Quad/Graphics created an environmental “mascot” — a goat named Gruff who’s their official spokesman for their environmental initiatives. “Be a Gruff … Recycle Stuff” is the company’s recycling slogan. Gruff even has his own e-mail address for questions and comments about recycling.
Sense and sustainability
As one of the first paper companies to take a proactive approach to environmental stewardship, Mohawk has a wealth of resources to help printers communicate to their clients how sustainability is connected to the bottom line.
Tips for Being Certified Green:
- Certifications benefit you and your customers. Making your clients look good builds strong, loyal business relationships.
- Sell the sustainable advantages of digital printing: less waste, more response, better supply chain management.