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Wednesday 7 November 2007

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We’re been environmentally-conscious for decades now so it has been interesting to witness the recent scramble as printers attempt to reposition themselves as “green”.


Many of our clients have started asking about the environmental credentials of our out-sourced printing. So the pressure to do the right thing by the environment is real.


But it has been intriguing to say the least how print companies have been “spinning” their green credentials.


One printer recently made a splash with the claim of “water-less” print.  At face value, this looks like an admirable thing to do.  Until, that is, you consider the extra carbon burned to power refrigeration for each printing deck and the introduction of silicon into the process to coat the plates.


Others make much of their Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) credentials.  This is a step in the right direction but it seems to rely on declared information from the supplier as screened by GECA.


Another positive move is the Chain of Custody Certificate for Forest Stewardship Council. This guarantees that printers are able to track FSC paper back through the paper making cycle to the forest the timber was grown in.  But, of course, that is just about the paper and has no bearing at all on printing processes.


The only really significant environmental credential is ISO14001 certification.


With all the nation’s printers boasting about being green, it is interesting that less than 1 per cent of them are up to this standard.


An ISO14001 printer, for example, can only source paper from similarly certified ISO14001 mills.
ISO14001 demands continual improvement.  The auditing is internal and external and it is continuous.  Even the auditors are audited. 
Every process is scrutinised in fine detail and everything is measured and recorded. 

A printer has to be really serious about making a difference to qualify.
ISO14001 makes the all other claimants look like try-hards.

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