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Flexo Sustainable : Fall 2012
Sustainability in the Prepress Trade Shop Designing & Implementing Green Initiatives By Tyler Mills Defining sustainability for the modern, digital prepress trade shop is a bit more elusive than for the printing operation. Consumables reach much smaller num- bers, and with film now in the twilight of its lifespan, the only physical products generated by today ’s flexographic pre- press trade shops are contract proofs and the printing media. So where does that leave us? In his 1998 book entitled Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of the 21st Century, John Elkington first suggested the now commonly accepted principle of the triple bottom line: a measure of organizational success based on prof- its, environmental practices and social goodwill. The triple bottom line has since become a cornerstone of sustainable business and development. In 2005, world leaders at the UN World Summit recognized the three components of sustain- ability as economic development, social development and en- vironmental protection — three “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars.” (2005 World Summit Outcome Report) The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) is a non- profit group jointly initiated by top trade associations in the printing industry, including Flexographic Technical Associa- tion, that focuses on sustainability in the different manufactur- ing processes of the printing operation. It breaks down the term into three different categories that can apply equally to the prepress trade shop: • Product — materials used to produce the physical prod- uct • Process — equipment, processes and workflows used to produce the physical product • Envelope — facility, energy, employees and supporting activities used in the process By dividing sustainability down into these more manage- able terms, it becomes much less of a grand, quixotic ideal and much easier for an organization to define in the context of the business environment. Much more has been written about companies looking to begin a path toward sustainability, so this article will only briefly cover the initial steps necessary to get started, namely: • Defining a policy • Putting together a team • Incorporating an Environmental Management System Gary Jones, director of environmental, health and safety affairs for the Printing Industries of America, has written two essential articles for those pursuing a path toward sustain- ability. The first, “Becoming a Sustainable Green Printer — A Systematic Approach,” is available for free on the PIAG (Print- ing and Imaging Association of Georgia) website (http://www. rediscoverprint.com/docs/green/BecomingASustainablePrint er_1Q08GP.pdf). The second, “How to Prepare a Sustainability Policy,” first appeared in the PIA’s Management Portfolio and can be found (along with a summary on the What They Think? blog) with a quick Google search. In both, Jones outlines the steps necessary for companies looking to become sustain- able and green. Before embarking on a journey to become sustainable, it’s important for the leaders of an organization to come together and identify what the term really means to the business. Success requires a commitment from the senior leadership, and without it, even the best-laid plans will likely fail. Leaders should identify exactly what makes them sustainable, as well as all the reasons for choosing to pursue a path toward sus- tainability. Outcomes of this meeting should lead to a starting point for developing an organizational sustainability policy and a sustainability team. The most effective sustainability policies follow a few simple guidelines. To begin, most are concisely written documents, no more than a few paragraphs, which clearly define the or- ganization’s sustainable/environmental direction and purpose to all levels within the company. All policies should exhibit a level of commitment and contain some specific goals that the organization will work toward. Perhaps most importantly, those goals should fit harmoni- ously within the organization’s more broad business goals. PAPERLESS OFFICE Consider the number of changes that have hap- pened in prepress over the past 10 years. Gone are the days when the work neces- sitated filmsetters, scanners, light tables, and sublimation printers for proofs. Bar- ring the footprint of plate and sleeve manufacturing, most trade shops today can function on a server, a few workstations, a RIP, a work- flow system and a couple of inkjet proofers. Almost all have some form of Manage- ment Information System (MIS) with electronic work ticket capabilities, and yet so Look for the Energy Star label on electric equipment, the manual, or in the equipment specifications to see if it meets the EPA energy performance standards. 8 Sustainable FLEXO fALL 2012 www.flexomag.com