Q&A with Joe Deemer

Q&A with Joe Deemer, Author of Sustainability Studies in Print: Five Printers Discuss Their Journeys to SGP Certification.

What level of understanding/commitment is Sustainability Studies in Print aimed toward? Is it for someone curious about embracing bits and pieces of sustainability? Or someone who wants to go all the way toward SGP Certification?
On its most basic level, Sustainability Studies in Print is aimed at the curious with the hopes that they will be inspired to follow in the footsteps of Alcom, Global Packaging, Monroe Litho, SunDance Marketing Solutions, and T-Formation. If a printer reads this book and decides to pursue certification with the Sustainable Green Printing (SGP) Partnership, then that’s a great thing. Certainly, many companies decide to make “green” claims in terms of promotion, and an SGP certification adds a solid level of credibility to such claims. But just like the whole “all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares” notion, you don’t need to be SGP-certified to actually be a sustainable printer. So, if a printer reads this book and decides to simply employ a more aggressive recycling program or maybe try out more eco-friendly materials because of the contents of Sustainability Studies in Print, I would still be thrilled with that result—and hopefully that hypothetical printer will be as well.  

What are some of the common pitfalls that the printers in Sustainability Studies in Print stumbled upon?
At some point nearly all of the printers mentioned that they were unsure of how to proceed in the face of the documentation and criteria supplied by the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership. Many of these issues, on their surface, were purely semantic, but in some cases, a slight miscommunication can have time-consuming ramifications in the future.

It’s important to note that continuous improvement is one of the main tenets of SGP certification, and that the SGP Partnership holds itself to the same high standards it asks of applicants. So, with that in mind—and taking the concerns of early adopters into consideration—at the beginning of 2011, the SGP rewrote and clarified its certification criteria. The newly adopted criteria can be found in the first appendix of Sustainability Studies in Print

What was main difference between the five printers? What is so unique about their journeys?
The main differences between the printers are the primary processes they use. Our membership is mainly lithographers, and three litho printers are featured here, including sheetfed and web as well as integration with digital presses. There is also a flexo printer and a screen printer. The main idea here was to show that these principles are not just limited to your traditional litho printers in addition to showing that some of the most effective sustainability techniques employed by, say, the screen printer, could just as easily be used in any sheetfed litho operation. In this manner, I believe the book shows that even across widely varied processes, some basic tried-and-true sustainability applications will almost always yield favorable results. At the same time, each printer does share some process-specific stories that will appeal to readers sharing their particular niche.

Are the printers in this book still maintaining the SGP required levels of sustainability?
As of right now, you can visit www.sgppartnership.org, select “Find a Certified Facility” and find all five printers still maintaining their certification. It’s important to note that this is just as impressive as achieving certification in the first place. SGP certification is not designed to be a “rest on your laurels” program. One of the key facets of certification is establishing a continuous improvement program. Even as these plants are becoming certified, they’re still required to select new initiatives to adopt in their day-to-day operations.

What will a printer take away from this book?
When I started this project, my primary goal was that printers would read these stories and take away a sense of excitement and enthusiasm. Yes, you can be a sustainable printer, and your sustainable initiatives can yield far more than a potential marketing opportunity and the satisfaction that comes from “doing the right thing.” In addition to learning practical tips and procedures from five great printers who have achieved SGP certification, I hope they also come away inspired. You can get from point A to point B, and the trip is well worth it.

Ordering Information
Order your copy of Sustainability Studies in Print: Five Printers Discuss Their Journeys to SGP Certification today.

Title: Sustainability Studies in Print
Subtitle: Five Printers Discuss Their Journeys to SGP Certification
Author: Joe Deemer
Item Number:
List Price: $40
Member Price: $25

Order online at www.printing.org/store or place your order with a Member Central Representative by clciking here, 800-910-4283 ext. 770, or 412-259-1770. 

Published on Friday, September 23, 2011 (updated 06/20/2016)

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