The green giant: the growing subject of the environment
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By Morwenna Kearns
22 November 2010
Ultima Displays is among those in the industry proving their commitment to the environment by achieving the ISO 14001 accreditation
One of Output's main priorities is promoting the use of environmentally friendly materials, techniques and business practices. For some sign-makers and display producers the subject is something of a millstone around the neck, as landfill fees rise and the pressure from potentially more ecologically savvy competitors remains in a still challenging economic environment.
Indeed, Sophie Matthews-Paul's feature on Talk Print! this week discusses waste management schemes and the conflicting approaches taken by local authorities around the UK, and how there is something of a postcode lottery for companies in terms of affordable options. We'd like to hear about your experiences: whether your local council has assisted in your bid to go green, or whether it seemed to be actively opposed to the idea, and, if so, if and how you overcame it.
Elsewhere on Talk Print! HP's Stephen Goddard comments on the eco-conscious steps taken by major companies and how this can relate to the sign and display industry; footwear manufacturer Timberland, for example, is attempting to quantify its products' carbon footprint. This includes reducing the amount of PVC and solvents in their manufacture and foreseeing their future recyclabilty. This, as Stephen points out, is just the topic on the minds of sign-makers who want to prove their green credentials.
Ultima Displays is among the companies in our industry to have achieved the Environmental Standard of ISO 14001:2004 this year, of which it is understandably proud. The Environmental Management System's (EMS) name (catchy as it is) is probably familiar to most display producers, but what may not be so well known is what it takes to attain it. Rather a lot, it transpires: Ultima Displays demonstrated its commitment to the environment by agreeing to reduce general waste heading to landfill by up to 50 percent, to ensure hazardous waste is safely disposed of using approved couriers, to reduce gas and electricity use significantly, to use only vehicles with low CO2 emissions and to urge its hauliers to use energy efficient engines too, and to influence its suppliers to address their environmental impact. This is in addition to complying with standard environmental regulations.
When you add general workplace waste (office paper, kitchen rubbish) and employee transport into the equation, there are dozens of ways to reach the green answer. This might appear a frightening concept when looked at as one heap, but announcing, for instance, a 20 percent reduction in waste sent to landfill, or a new recyclable range of banners, could be a good place to start. There are numerous companies which offer the ISO 14001 qualification, including some which provide free documents and advice on how to go about it.
However, the display materials sector is not innocent among the UK's industries which charge a premium for recycled, organic, biodegradable and generally eco-friendly products. Nor are related sectors, suppliers of raw materials for example, always forthcoming with facts about the goods they are supplying. While there are uncountable steps in the right direction, I can't help feeling there needs to be movement from a large enough group to create a distinct shift.
Last week I heard that the director of a waste management company was finding the market tough, not because sign-makers and printers don't see the social and reputation benefits of recycling, or because they don't recognise that the price of sending waste to landfill has risen sharply and will continue to do so, but because of the unwelcome cost of transport. Our editorial team had a chat about this and the logistics involved in companies getting together for a common advantage, such as mass recycling, and realised that our industry's greatest resource is the people which comprise it.
We at Output want this magazine to be more than a news resource, but an opportunity to share ideas, opinions and information throughout the display industry, to create networks to help businesses and business practices. So, if you know of a successful regional recycling scheme, have achieved ISO 14001 or implemented other company-level changes, or have a comment to make, please do get in touch and join the discussion.
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