Sustainability – It’s A Journey

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On our way to a sustainable future

Environmental credibility is at the forefront of strategic planning at Tradeprint.  Anthony Rowell, Sales & Customer Success Director has years of practical working experience with sustainable printing.  He is also Chair of the BPIF Environmental Forum and a Cambridge Business Sustainability Management Alumni.  Anthony has broken down the goal of sustainability into objectives for the business to work towards.

And nowhere does he talk about carbon offsetting …

Striving For Production Efficiency

We are 25 years old as a business this year and this has us thinking about where we were, where we are and where we are heading. Back in 2014 we had a couple of B1 Print Machines installed – long perfectors is the industry term and being quite frugal we thought we’d capture the waste heat using a heat exchanger and then use the heat to supplement the heating system in the plant. This was a cost saving initiative to reduce our energy consumption and therefore our bills. The work was done almost a decade ago, so we have little chance of being able to tell you how much CO2 we cut but we are pleased we did it and that helps us start with a lower baseline as we develop our approach to hitting our net zero 2040 targets.

In a similar vein we recognised several years ago that a move to LED lights in the plant could save money and improve working conditions – amazingly, the brighter, more efficient lighting helps us with quality control too – in real terms, it helps the team with more consistent viewing conditions for colour and helps us pick up print and finishing quality issues more effectively. Moving to LED lighting is one of the easiest ways to cut CO2 and improve our overall energy efficiency. Unfortunately, we can’t shout about reduced carbon footprints because we’ve transitioned over a long period of time – our focus was on cost saving and we didn’t measure those kinds of things in the past.  As with the heating system we are still pleased we did it as we have that lower baseline. In 2022 / 2023 we are increasing our manufacturing footprint and LED lighting will be used as standard to help us mange costs and we will also be paying closer attention to how we impact our carbon footprint.

New investments in machinery in early March 2022 are making a huge impact on efficiency and helping us reduce waste. One such investment is with Canon and we are delighted with our new partnership. The Canon IX3200 was chosen in part due its sustainability credentials. We were impressed by the clarity that Canon provided around carbon footprint, power consumption and the detail provided around de-Inking gave us confidence we had made the right choice.

As with our Capital Expenditure projects, sustainability sits at the core of our supply chain purchasing strategy.  We aim to print on FSC®-certified paper meaning that we only use paper from trees that have been responsibly forested, read more here Unprinted paper and board stocks make up a tiny proportion of what we do  and are being transitioned to FSC® products over time but we are transitioning these over to FSC as well as opportunities come along, and by any account will having fully converted by the end of our 2025 fiscal year”.

Over the last 12 months or so we’ve also been building up a range of recycled paper stocks so that we can provide more choice to our customers. It is also exciting to think that as we build on our credibility as a wide format supplier, we can make good choices about materials. We are currently producing a range of flexible banners and posters in house and have been working with key suppliers to bring PVC free materials into our operation whilst we work with our waste contractors and customers to understand the complexities of recycling – essentially so we can recycle more!

Joining Forces & Knowledge Bases

As a manufacturer of printed products, we acknowledge our position in the environment and as such we have joined forces with several official bodies to investigate, learn and understand the impact of the print industry on the world.

  • British Printing Industries Federation – We are a proud member of the BPIF who have formed an Environmental Forum to lead the sustainability agenda within the print industry. Anthony is the Chair and with his steerage, there is now an Environmental Roadmap open to all print businesses in the UK. The main objectives are to support, sustain and develop environmental and sustainability standards and best practice for the sector.
  • As Anthony is an alumnus of the University of Cambridge – Business Sustainability Management course he has access to other business professionals who take a collaborative approach to the sustainability of commerce within the UK. We believe industry collaboration is the key to driving positive change in sustainability.

The Future of Sustainability within Tradeprint

Our aim with setting out our environmental strategy is to follow a set of official standards referred to as ESG. Environmental, social and governance standards encourage businesses to really focus on values and invest in them via their wider business strategy.  We aim for  transparency and accountability via internal OKRs (Objectives and Key Results Framework) and cross-level reporting in the following areas:

  • Our impact on the environment including those points identified within this article.
  • Our ethical impact on society as a business and relationships with our staff, our suppliers and our customers and our overarching plan to invest in those relationships and maintain excellent and inclusive working conditions to see those connections flourish.
  • The diversity and integrity of our senior leadership team and their relationship with our Parent Company Cimpress as well as the transparency of our accounting methods.

We are building a network of ‘Green Champions’ in the business to launch a ‘Green Group’ that will help drive positive change through the business looking for opportunities to reduce energy usage and cut down on waste. One of their goals will be to evangelise about sustainability and to encourage the wider participation across the business in these initiatives.

We want to build a multi-disciplined project team to investigate:

  • A move to renewable energy and a team that will look for grants and support to help us finance the move.
  • Options to install more energy efficient infrastructure such as energy efficient electric boilers in our manufacturing plant.
  • A firm understanding of our Scope 3 emissions especially from our logistics network. Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions arising within the supply chain. To best understand these and plan a strategy around them the team will liaise with our partners in the supply chain and examine the environmental strategy of our logistics network.

The vision for sustainability is an integral part of our Leadership Team weekly priorities and is a fundamental part of our OKR Framework (we use Objectives and Key Results to drive business initiatives) we believe companies have a duty to act responsibly, it not only makes sense to recycle more, produce less waste and be mindful of our environmental impact but it also provides reassurance to customers that they are buying from a responsible business and it also helps us attract employees that share the same vision and values as us.

Why We Haven’t Mentioned Carbon Offsetting

Whilst we are aware of the many carbon offsetting schemes that a business can buy into, we have decided to look inwards and make infrastructure changes that will reduce the emissions we cause.

We beg the question, can carbon offsetting really be used as a substitute for real, significant action? Is this yet another permeation of greenwashing? After all, the schemes don’t hold a company accountable for meaningful change once the payment is made.  There is a general unnerving that carbon offsetting is a distraction, a magic trick to get us to look away from the actual chaos at hand.

Furthermore, as we believe in sustainability, we find it difficult to accept that in the offshore offsetting schemes, nature has a price and is seen as a commodity.  Where companies are encouraged to invest in foreign schemes, they are capitalising nature, and we have concerns about the indigenous populations.  Are they still able to practice land management to sustain their lives?  Would offsetting by private companies buy up land that reduces land available for communities?  Would it lead to changes within those communities that could affect their culture, natural laws, and traditions? You can read more about The Indigenous Environmental network here:  

Carbon offsetting brings up so many questions that we would prefer to tackle the challenges of our industry rather than bury our impact within a carbon offsetting project. Our hope is that in taking honest steps toward operating more sustainably and setting actionable goals we will be able to track our progress transparently and offer quantifiable results.

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