First of all, what does ‘environmental sustainability’ mean? On the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) website the definition of environmental sustainability is ‘meeting the needs of today without impacting on the needs of tomorrow’. For businesses, that basically means limiting the use of natural resources and reducing the amount of waste that goes back into the environment through air, water or landfills.
Our industry has been involved in a number of initiatives as we work towards increasing environmental sustainability. In particular, the New Zealand Paperboard Packaging Association (NZPPA) produced a Code of Practice (CoP) for its members, which includes guidelines for reducing the effects of packaging on the environment. This includes the initial design of packaging taking into account its end disposal, through to reducing the amount of energy used to create the packaging. Refer to the NZPPA website, www.printnz.co.nz/NZPPA.htm, for copies of the CoP.
NZPPA members have recently started to develop Action Plans to implement the CoP and already benefits are being gained. One company has a policy that states it will take back any of its product for recycling. Another company has reduced their paper waste to landfill to nil and another company uses only vegetable-based inks for its printing.
In 2005 the Paperboard Packaging sector also released the results of its survey – Consumer attitudes to Packaging, Recycling and the Environment. The survey found while consumers appreciate the benefits of packaging – i.e. protection for goods and convenience – 93% see packaging as an environmental problem. It was found that consumers do differentiate between different types of packaging, with many favouring more recyclable types of packaging. Top of the ‘environmentally friendly’ list are paper bags, cardboard boxes and newspapers, while bottom of the list are the less environmentally friendly forms of packaging including polystyrene, plastic food wrappers and plastic bags.
At PrintNZ we endeavour to provide you, our members, with useful information on a broad range of issues, including environmental matters. In October (2005) we ran a series of seminars on the Landcare Research tool Enviro-Mark NZ. This is an internet-based tool for Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) management. Enviro-Mark NZ provides users with a number of benefits including:
• Demonstrated compliance with
HSE legislation and, at advanced levels, commitment to move beyond compliance.
• Step-by-step guidelines available through the internet.
• Clarification of HSE-related legislation accessible on the Enviro-Mark NZ website.
• Improved risk management and resource efficiency.
Several members are making use of Enviro-Mark NZ in their daily business, as customers and local and central Government demand more evidence of compliance to environmental and other legislation.
During 2005, a research project by Victoria University PhD student Sarah Pritchard looked at barriers to printing businesses adopting environmental or health and safety practices. While there are many barriers to implementing environmental practices, those companies that have show there are benefits in both bottom line and staff outlooks.
There is also the customer factor. While customers are likely to get their jobs printed at a company who offers the lowest price, no matter what their environmental practices may be, this is changing – particularly with Government clients.
In November 2005 a meeting was held to discuss the concept of a Paper Forum, which would focus on environmental sustainability issues for all paper manufacturers and users. This first-time meeting was attended by representatives from all areas within the paper sector, encompassing paper suppliers, printers, packaging companies, magazines, newspapers and direct mail.
The participants at this initial meeting agreed that the purpose of a Paper Forum could be to collectively:
• Manage environmental risk for
• Provide a collective voice to Government (local and central) on environmental issues associated
• Provide information and advice to reduce the amount of paper waste
The Paper Forum Group will meet again next month (March). Participants will be provided with a discussion document they will take to their constituent groups prior to this meeting. This paper will include options for organisation form, membership, cost sharing and time etc.
You will hear more from us on this environmental issue over the next year and it will be one area we will cover in our Conference in October. As an industry association we need to
ensure there is a balance between the wishes of Government and the realities of business.
If you have any thoughts around environmental sustainability or the set-up of a Paper Forum, please email me – email@example.com