RIT Study: Printing Industry Getting Serious About Sustainability

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Commercial printing remains one of the three largest manufacturing industries in the United States. Its commitment to environmental sustainability matters — a lot. So where does the industry overall stand on the issue of sustainability? What steps is it taking to monitor, measure, and control its environmental impact? RIT’s Sustainable Print Systems Laboratory decided to find out.

In its study “Exploring Existing Measures of Environmental Impacts of Print: A Survey of Existing Practices,” it conducted a 31-question survey of printing businesses (filled out by 105 respondents) that looked at five different areas: sustainability policies, sustainability metrics and measures, involvement in formal environmental certification programs, influence of sustainability on company decision-making, and obstacles.  All of the responses were self-reported.

The results?

  • 37% have a formal sustainability policy in place
  • 17% have an informal sustainability policy in place
  • 14% are working on one

Not only do they have policies, but they are attempting to quantify their efforts. More than half (54%) of those responding to the survey said they had sustainability metrics or were developing them. Most of these were internal, but the point is, they’re doing it.

In addition, a minimum of one-quarter (22%) have already implemented at least one formal environmental certification like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

When looking at an industry as large and environmentally influential as printing, this is great news. Printers are aware of their environmental responsibility and are taking it seriously. This commitment is translating into practical steps that can be quantified. It’s environmental news worth celebrating.

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