If the right choices are made the printed product is truly sustainable
Welcome to the relaunched and refocused PPE website. The UK printing industry has changed. On 1 March 2007 PPE was first launched and at this time the environmental reputation of the printing industry was deservedly poor. There were, of course, a small number of exceptions and these companies acted as pioneers, drivers of improvement, and have been hugely significant in the transformation of the industry. As a frequent critic of the industry’s performance it is only fair that I now play a role in broadcasting the transformation in the industry in recent years.
Using 2007 as a benchmark, PPE confirms the issues and looks back at the former situation and then the current state of play – detailing the huge improvements. Information resources remain to help buyers of print and all printing companies featured are, as a minimum, ISO 14001 certified. What’s new is the highlighting of innovative companies and technological advances to illustrate the improved industry performance.
It is a personal bugbear that companies talk about ‘green initiatives’ and ‘eco’ this and that: environmental improvements are usually performance improvements, reduce costs, and, therefore, common sense. There remains room for improvement but it is time to update perceptions on both the environmental image of the UK printing industry and, therefore, the environmental impact of the printed product.

Context: The UK printing industry has been transformed in recent years...

One of the plus points of the recent difficult and transitional times for the UK printing industry has been a process of culling: the industry is now leaner, more modern, efficient and its environmental performance – and, therefore, the environmental impact of the product is much improved.
The shrinking commercial printing industry. Drivers of environmental improvement. The profile of a progressive company. Making the right choices – Greenwash is still a huge problem.
Read about the reasons for the industry changes - its not just about electronic publishing - by clicking on the image to the left.
Innovation: The potential for environmental / performance improvements is vast and limited only by the collective imagination levels and motivation of a company…
Doesn't it make sense to devote short-term resources to reducing overheads long-term? Click here to read about how innovative ideas are helping to transform the printing industry's performance and image or on an icon below to read about individual companies...
Certification: Environmental accreditation and certification – a framework for performance improvements
Environmental schemes are a framework for awareness of environmental impacts, managing and reducing these impacts...and reaping performance and financial benefits.
For a diverse range of reasons (see Drivers of Environmental Improvement) the number of environmentally certified companies has greatly increased in recent years. The certification-pioneers identified promotional opportunities but this served to raise awareness levels around the importance of managing the environmental impacts of the printing process. ISO 14001 is, of course, the most commonly known environmental management scheme (EMS) but a growing number of companies are recognising the benefits of the Eco Management & Audit Scheme for taking performance monitoring, analysis and improvements to a higher level.
ISO 14001 has long been a buzz phrase in UK print. Despite not being fully understood in many quarters, it has acted as a driver of environmental improvement as print buyers sought reassurances of the environmental performance of their print suppliers. External verification (certification) of efforts is necessary due to a culture of misleading environmental claims (Greenwash) and as a mechanism for buyers of print to easily establish a company’s environmental status.
ISO 14001, FSC, EMAS
Technology: Technological advances in recent years have been dramatic and a main driver of the improved environmental performance of the printing industry…
The printing process is, essentially, putting ink on to a substrate, while maintaining a range of required and desired standards. The faster and more efficiently this is done, the better for everyone: reduced set up times and resources, reduced energy, faster running speeds...all of which contribute to reduced environmental impact and reduced print costs.
Read about Geoff Neal Group's and Heidelberg's Anicolour inking system here...
Technology is a main driver of environmental improvement and the improvements since 2007 are considerable and diverse. Read about these here...
Information: All the information you need to make informed decisions...
Ink / Energy and Emissions / Landfill waste / Water / Hazardous waste / VOCs / Alcohol (IPA)
Some environmental claims are very vague, others very specific, but a majority are misleading. Click here to visit this section to read objective information on the varied aspects of environmental performance.
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