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GO GREEN OR SEE RED
It is very clear that running a business on sound environmental policies results in a positive contribution to the bottom line.
The numbers of printers operating in a dirty, slovenly way, with little thought given to the environmental impact they are making or even for the welfare of their staff, thankfully are becoming fewer by the day. The fear of Draconian fines and economic forces are helping to see to that.
However, their counterparts, the numbers of printers who are turning to well thought out environmental policies, implementing procedures to address the environmental impact of their business, is not growing anywhere near fast enough.
This group is not motivated by the fear of fines, but their numbers are small because the great majority of printers see them as 'goody two shoes' not worth emulating. Most printers see little merit in the benefits of having and implementing an environmental policy. Many pay lip service; but they change the way of doing things only when pushed, with any motivation being driven by a sense of compliance and not by ideals.
What a stupid way to act, but how much more stupid can you get? A lot more, for every week that goes by such nonchalant attitudes continue to run up excessive and needless costs, cutting into margins and reducing customer acceptability of such a business.
The managing director of Taylor Bloxham in Leicester, realised that having a positive attitude towards environmental issues made sense well before most in the industry. He says: "We gained ISO 14001 for environmental management back in 1997, and the positive benefits have been enormous, both within the factory and with the image we present to our clients."
Staff have regular one-to-one interviews to ensure the company's environmental policy is pursued, but them stresses the tangible benefits. "Instead of having to pay US 1.000 to get rid of a skip full of empty and partly empty ink tins for example, by using cartridges everything gets recycled and there is no waste. In fact the plastic in the cartridges, along with the film wrapping and the likes, can actually generate revenue when recycled, rather than cost us."
It took what seemed to be an age before the use of cartridges became widespread even though the benefits early on were self-evident. At the current rate of conversion seeing ink in a tin will soon be a very rare event.
To be fair, an environmental policy can, in the early part of the implementation, actually increase costs, though mostly subliminal for the policy will be drawing on considerable amounts of management time, with staff having to be educated and contractors dealt with.
Although it is now very clear that running a business based on sound environmental policies results in a positive contribution to the bottom line, even if it did not, current Government policies also in Latinamerica, coupled with society's general attitude, means that firms have little choice. In effect, get on with it and stop whinging.
Until now, if you have been running a business with no environmental policy or you may have even thought you were too small to be concerned, then change your attitude now.
So where should you start?
"I think it's best to carry out an audit to establish where you are now. Then targets and goals can be set, and of course it will soon become clear what efficiencies can be gained."
Auditing, benchmarking ? call it what you will, but for change to take place it is important to have a base line. When asked for a good starting point to be environmentally friendly: "Controlling fugitive emissions is important. Keep lids and caps on solvents, varnishes and inks and also look at how much waste is generated and do an audit. Ask yourself how was it created, why was it created and what is happening to it?"
All waste carries a disposal cost. Some of it may be hidden in council rates while other costs are a direct charge on the business. An audit will establish where these costs are being borne, what their values are and where perhaps these costs may be reduced. "Anything that is manufactured will become waste, so recycle as much as possible."
The necessary team spirit can best be generated by producing facts; perhaps that is the main point of an audit. Having a policy on managing energy consumption will probably contribute value to the bottom line more quickly than any other initiative save perhaps reducing VOCs, but discussing this with staff in roundabout terms will have little effect. The big picture scenario, while important, can prevent a proper focus. For an example, if every household in Britain turned off the lights when no one was in the room, the closure of one power station would be possible, but this has little relevance to workers. Yet if some attempt is made to actually show the benefits of wise energy use, then people are more inclined to participate.
This can be achieved quite simply. Monitoring electricity bills is one way but this will not tell where the energy is being used. RS Components is known to most as a major catalogue seller of electrical components. From them suitable measuring devices for tracking how much energy each individual motor or lighting source uses can be obtained for around US$ 500-800. Such data provides a reference point to target, but does not work in isolation.
Both Heidelberg and Komori can provide benchmark details of energy saving that will occur when a press is operating under a variety of conditions, and it makes a great deal of sense to develop a relationship with your press supplier when embarking on your green pressroom project. Ms Taylor says: "In the first year, savings in energy under various conditions usually reduce relevant bills by about 5% and this progressively increases in succeeding years."
Efficiency is key
Heidelberg says: "Efficient running of the business is key and Heidelberg has a clear environmental stance. Under ISO 14001 we comply with the Eco-Management and audit scheme set up by the EC. For example an SM102-8 equipped with enhanced hydrophilic surfaces and precisely controlled metering can reduce VOC consumption by two tonnes per year when operated on a double day shift."
Komori Europe, says: "Environmental and green issues are very important to us. As an example we have compiled data from running an S Series Lithrone for over a year under a wide variety of conditions and our staff can draw on this when dealing with printers' enquiries."
MAN Roland is like Komori in the way it is proactively benchmarking press performance under a wide variety of conditions. They say: "At Augsberg we maintain as a test bed a hybrid web press. Here third parties are able to gather data on how their products perform, and quantify improvements in performance. I think you will find that Augsberg has been at the centre of many of the successful efforts that have resulted in reducing or even eliminating the need for alcohol in dampening solutions."
Alcohol reduction is probably the most tricky but worthwhile of all projects to embark on. Consult with your consumables supplier first. Reducing alcohol is a project that requires considerable planning to implement. Going it alone is an option certainly, but why make the mistakes and learn lessons for yourself when others have already made the same mistakes? Apart from being difficult to quantify potential brain damage, eliminating alcohol usage will result in much cleaner, brighter colours that have greater appeal to a customer, initially the ratio of jobs going wrong may increase. There is a price to be paid for everything. Your printing should be standardised controling print contrast as main value.
Fulmar is a printer well aware of the advantages of having a green policy. Their Managing director says: "Last year we used about 12,000 litres of alcohol and 13,000 litres of wash containing VOCs. Our target this year is to reduce VOC use to about 7,500 litres, a reduction of 70%." This achievement in the main will be as a result of working closely with Technotrans, which will supply Fulmar with a variety of press ancillary devices. These will include a reverse osmosis system, glycol cooling and an Eco.clean unit. This device separates out the VOC within the blanket wash and enables its reuse. The payback on this US$ 200,000 investment is a little over a year and to put it in perspective Fulmar has around 70 printing units.
Technotrans operations manager says: "We are enabling medium-sized printers to save upwards of $30,000 per year and more, but it's probably better to look at as a direct reduction in the cost of producing print. In other words a chance to increase margins." Such contributions directly reinforce the point that savings grow progressively year on year.
manufacturers and suppliers adopting such
a positive attitude to producing and marketing environmentally friendly
products, it could be suggested that a printer has little need to be
proactive. At first, this suggestion could be difficult to refute,
policy of the Governments are that the polluters pay. It will
increasingly evident as more legislation continues to hit the statute
that anyone who tries to buck this policy will find that his bills are
higher than a conformist. The message is clear ? go green or see red.
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