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Rejected! Can Lack of Environmental Certification Hurt You?

I’ve blogged a number of times about the benefits of purchasing paper that uses an environmental certification like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

But has not using one of these certifications become a negative differentiator? Can it get you kicked out of the running?

I just read a post on one of the LinkedIn boards that tells me, yes, it’s happening. Listen to this:

My brother-in-law had his business card (and his presentation) rejected by a client because it was not printed on FSC paper: forget the fact that he had a viable solution to sell. Appearances ruled. We can debate whether that was a knee-jerk, politically correct reaction or whether the client wanted the supplier to walk the talk on environmental awareness. There is a lot of validity on both sides of the argument.

Wow! Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Tell me what you think.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.


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  1. This is really interesting and heart wrenching. It is really unfortunate that our business elites feel they must spend big money on certification to prove to themselves that they are a "GREEN" company. In fact being "GREEN" is really a by-product of a high-performance company. The only way you will prove you are a "GREEN" company is by creating a green business strategy and sticking to it, not by buying your certification.

  2. If your committed to environment, then you will buy the certification as an extension of those company values. Although, I would not discard a proposal that is missing a certification mark (unless that was a published requirement). Sometimes – for design considerations – we don't put the FSC logo on a product even if it meets the requirements.

    This is also a keen example of know your audience and how best to reach them.

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