Printing’s role in sustainable business

By David Welters, Solutions Architect, Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa

In today's rapidly changing world, the call for sustainability is more prominent than ever before. The business landscape is shifting towards environmental responsibility, and industries are seeking innovative ways to balance profit with planet. The print industry, often overlooked in discussions of sustainability, has emerged as a surprising beacon of environmentally conscious practices. Its journey towards sustainability offers valuable lessons for other sectors aiming to contribute to a greener, more resilient future.

Research reveals that the print industry has been under pressure for decades to reduce its environmental impact, given its significant consumption of resources. A report by FESPA, a global federation of associations for the screen and digital printing industry, found that 72% of print buyers request environmentally friendly products and practices and 70% of printers can address sustainability demands without raising their prices. The report said that the print industry is making significant efforts to improve its environmental performance and meet the expectations of its customers and stakeholders, however there is still room for improvement.

The journey towards sustainability in printing has been marked by innovative strategies. One notable advancement has been the development of plant-based inks, replacing traditional petroleum-based inks. These eco-friendly inks, derived from renewable sources such as soy, corn, and algae, offer reduced toxicity and biodegradability. They significantly minimise the environmental impact of the print industry, emitting fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and greenhouse gases. This innovation not only benefits the environment, but also attests to the industry's commitment to green practices.

The print industry has also invested in energy-efficient equipment, water-saving technologies, waste management systems, and environmental certifications. These endeavors are not just a means to reduce their carbon footprint, but also an indication of a broader shift towards sustainability.

As a prominent player in the print industry, Kyocera sets a high standard in the industry’s quest for sustainability having achieved 100% renewable energy at key production sites in Vietnam and China, and thereby aligning with the long-term environmental goals based on the Paris Agreement.

The print industry's journey towards sustainability is more than just an isolated effort; it offers valuable insights for other sectors. It demonstrates that businesses can indeed balance economic gains with environmental preservation. As more industries grapple with the imperative to protect the planet, they can draw inspiration from the print industry's transformation. The principles and practices that prioritise energy efficiency, durability, and recyclability can be adapted and applied to diverse sectors.

The circular economy, embraced by the print industry, presents an opportunity for a holistic approach to sustainability. Collaboration within the supply chain can ensure that design, production, and end-of-life considerations are environmentally responsible. The ripple effect of such practices extends to local job growth and the expansion of small and medium-sized businesses, contributing to a more environmentally responsible and economically robust future.

As consumers increasingly seek eco-friendly options, the market potential for green products grows exponentially. Businesses that prioritise the environment are poised to unlock new growth opportunities. The green economy not only offers environmental protection and enhanced resilience, but also innovation and improved health. It's a path that holds promise for a harmonious coexistence of profitability and the planet. The print industry's commitment to sustainability is a testament to the changing tides in business, and we are collectively navigating the challenges of the modern world, aiming to safeguard the planet for future generations. It is a shared endeavor, a responsibility we all carry.

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