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Tips for green sustainability

Companies might not be thinking of the environment as they struggle to stay afloat.

Read time 3min 40sec

With times as tough as they are today, many print product and solution providers could be forgiven for defocusing on green initiatives. After all, when the bottom line is under pressure, they know the executives in their customer base will seek to rationalise their spending and focus only on revenue-generating and cost-cutting initiatives. And going green, it will be reasoned, will drive up costs with little in the way of tangible business benefits.

Globally, the recession is a primary reason that governments and companies have taken their eye off the global warming issue. Concern for the environment is seen as a luxury rather than a necessity.

But our future, and that of our children, depends on global sustainability. To make it attractive to hard-nosed, pragmatic executives, there has to be a clear, profit-oriented message, and it must deliver a measurable return on investment (ROI).

Just do it

What is good for the environment is also good for business - companies know this thanks to decades-long commitment to sustainability.

What is good for the environment is also good for business.

Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

Here are five steps that can be taken in a business to achieve sustainable success:

1. Examine the company's full value chain
Don't limit the focus to a single functional area. Be open to enhancements and innovations that could reduce the environmental impact along the entire printing value chain, from start to finish, from job initiation to toner cartridge. By reviewing all components of the value chain, the company will broaden the potential for smart green ideas.

2. Use scientific, empirical analysis to find the best opportunities
In reviewing the print environment, analytical tools and approaches designed for quality management programmes, such as Lean Six Sigma, can help to spot problems and opportunities that deliver the biggest benefits rapidly. Goals and metrics will help align the company and empower it. Putting them in place enables more people to take part, and going this route helps the company do more than can be imagined.

3. The planned enhancement or innovation must yield economic and environmental benefits
Measurable benefits are vital for any green programme as it relates to printing. So the win-win nature of a project must be considered before kick-starting it. As economics is one of the three tenets of sustainability, putting the company out of business while going green is not a sustainable approach. But, wise use of paper, recycling paper and toner cartridges, and a structured programme of component cannibalisation and re-use will have a major green impact.

4. Drive partnerships
To ensure success, a company must collaborate with suppliers, customers, outsourcing providers and other partners. For example, companies can partner with green foresters and environmentally compliant paper manufacturers; and collaborate with paper recyclers so as to reduce waste.

5. Innovate
Innovation helps drive the green movement. So as green initiatives begin, think laterally. Apply a fresh mind in reviewing the value chain or how costs are assessed. Seek opportunities to innovate. Breakthrough results could be enjoyed - both for the environment and the company. Innovation helps reconcile the competing imperatives of the environment and profitability: it is what has driven such inventions as re-usable paper; ink sticks rather than toner cartridges; Emulsion Aggregate toner, which saves customers money and is kind on the environment; and the conscious design of equipment and parts with recycling in mind.

Printers and offices generate paper, so it can sometimes feel the company is on a hiding to nothing as it tries to enforce eco-sensitive principles in such an environment. But it can be done, with the right application of will, attitude and application.

Above all, the company needs to drive the green initiative with passion and enthusiasm. It is a privilege to be able to drive such an initiative, and to make a difference for today and the future.

A sense of mission will help to overcome the inevitable obstacles and inspire others in the company.

* Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

Rob Abraham

MD of Bytes Document Solutions

Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

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