Want to find a green printer? It depends on where in the country you are looking. This according to “Printing Goes Green: A What They Think Primer on Environmental Sustainability in the Commercial Printing Industry.”
According to an online survey conducted by What They Think in 2008. . .
- If you’re looking for green, you’re more likely to find it among larger shops. Three-quarters (75%) of large shops (100+ employees) have implemented some kind of formal environmental initiative, compared to 40% of smaller shop (1-9 employees);
- Look north. Shops in the Northeast are more likely to have formal environmental initiatives. Shops in the South and Pacific are the least likely;
- Beware of greenwashing among smaller shops. Smaller shops (1-9 employees) are more likely “greenwash,” saying that they are green because they do simple things such as “promote recycled papers” while larger companies are more likely to “perform an environmental impact statement or audit” (34% of 100+-employee shops).
- Commercial printers are more likely to have formal certifications than digital print shops and perform environmental impact audits. Not that these shops are actually more “green,” but commercial offset printing has a longer history and, over time, has needed to address a variety of environmental impacts due to effluents, emissions, consumables, and more. Thus, the higher level of certification is more reflective of its history than its greenness.
- If you are looking for wind power, look among larger shops. Although 5% of printers say they purchase wind power, this rises to 9% of 50–99-employee shops and 8% of 10–19-employee shops.
In spite of these data, another piece of data particularly piqued my interest.
- Environmental initiatives are far more important to small shops on a personal level than they are to large shops. 48% of shops with 1-9 employees said that environmental initiatives were more important to their companies than to their customers at this time compared to only 24% of 100+ employee shops. Likewise, 49% of the largest shops said that environmental initiatives were “critically important” to their customers, compared to 35% of the smallest shops.
In other words, if you want to support companies who have a philosophical commitment to green, support small to mid-sized shops.
This matches what I have seen anecdotally, as well. Large printers have a mandate to “go green” from their customers, and while they pay have environmental initiatives in place, they aren’t as deep or holistic as you see among the smaller shops. Among smaller shops, it’s not just a companywide “initiative” to look good for investors. It’s something the owner of the company is fundamentally committed to on a personal level. This often translates into deeper, more companywide sustainability initiatives.
So as you go green, start small.
Like this post? Read all of my “Greening Print Marketing” posts.