So says Steve Malkin, founder and CEO of Planet Positive on the topic of sustainability, where he believes the print sector can still take a lead.
Sustainability is in desperate need of effective communication. The subject matter is often dry, the language impenetrable and the delivery uninspiring. If we want people to engage in sustainability, then we have to inspire them into action, which is an open door for the print industry.
I’m fully aware of the pressures that the print industry is under from the digital market, but digital has not cornered the market on quality, content or even sustainability - yet. Every email with an attachment emits 4g of carbon (CO2) to every recipient and might typically sit on a server for five years soaking up energy.
Now, more than ever before, brands have to find ways to communicate their corporate sustainability credentials and those of their products and services. The printing industry has long known of the importance of sustainability and the need to produce with the environment in mind. It’s therefore frustrating that more print companies are not taking the initiative by offering imaginative sustainable solutions to their clients.
Perhaps it’s that sustainability is misunderstood, and the print sector hasn’t yet realised that leading the market in this way will win new business. Right now the buzz is about behaviour change and a positive engagement with people and target audiences. To get behaviour change to happen and be maintained, we need the very best communications across a variety of platforms, from Twitter and Facebook, to newspapers, magazines, cross-track posters, bus sides and even business cards.
But it is not just the products themselves. So many organisations are winning business by demonstrating that they are on their own ‘green journey’. It demonstrates that you not only understand the issues but also how to make it happen from recycling and reducing waste to energy and water consumption reduction.
Planet Positive offers businesses an International Mark of Sustainability and encourages companies to take easy steps towards a more sustainable future. Unfortunately, the print sector just isn’t being proactive when it comes to addressing the issue of sustainability. I think there are three key reasons that are putting businesses off sustainability initiatives, perhaps the print sector in particular. These are speed, complexity and cost.
There is a general consensus that these inhibitors are good enough reasons not to bother pursuing a sustainability plan for business. There is, unfortunately, a wide misunderstanding that sustainability will cost many thousands of pounds and take several years, and unfortunately the sustainability world is filled with acronyms, which are making people think that they would need to hire specialists in the field in order to produce a plan.
This simply isn’t the case. For example, if a SME with just 10 employees wanted a Planet Positive International Mark of Sustainability to show clients and prospective business partners that they are committed to reducing their carbon footprint, it would cost them as little as £750 per annum. All they would need to do is send information over on their usage, and Planet Positive would measure and produce a plan for the business in just four to six weeks, which would help them towards lowering their emissions, their energy consumption and their energy bills.
There are huge commercial business benefits to committing to become more sustainable, including brand enhancement, increased efficiency and cost savings, to name just a few. Many companies are saying they want to wait to address the issue until after the recession and the economy has improved, but actually, it’s those businesses acting now that will be in a stronger commercial position when that eventually happens. The losers will be those businesses that aren’t acting now, and are using small obstructions to blur the bigger picture.