Hungry for Sustainability

Choosing SustainabilityIn preparation for the eagerly awaited conversations to come during PRINTING United’s Sustainability Strategies Luncheon: Inside and Out on October 23, I reached out to two of our speakers to hear their insights on the world of sustainable print today and what they project for the future. Dale Crownover, the CEO of Texas Nameplate Company, and Brett Thompson, the Sign and Graphic Market Manager of Piedmont Plastics joined me in discussing how they define sustainable print, the generational gap with “green” vocabulary and more.

Sustainability is a widespread issue and has increasingly become part of everyday conversations with consumers, customers and brands. We constantly hear about recycling, fast fashion, renewable energies and climate change … But how does the printing industry tie in?

Brett ThompsonThompson explained the printing industry’s role as two-fold: “On its face, sustainable print can be thought of as product driven. A sustainable print operation, on the other hand, is process driven, where all aspects of the printing process (supply channel, manufacturing, logistics and end of life) are measured and quantified.”

However, the actual definition of “sustainable print” is a bit more complicated and not yet completely agreed upon. As Thompson said, “Ask 10 people and you will get 10 different answers.” This is because of the consistent evolution of the messaging surrounding sustainability in governments, businesses and the media over time.

Dale CrownoverCrownover said that 10 years ago he considered sustainable print as meaning it is a “repeatable, constant, little-changing process which provided reasonable throughput results.” Now, as his knowledge about and passion for the environment has grown, he considers sustainable print as being the offering of “a product associated with measures and concerns as to how the product affects our environmental footprint.” Essentially, the root word “sustain” has transformed from meaning remaining constant to making something viable for future generations.

This shift in meaning has certainly not yet reached everyone and is much more accepted among younger generations. As Crownover said, “Until the younger generation can train or convince others to think [of] environmental concerns as [they] relate to sustainability, I believe we may have to insert the word “green” or “environment” with the word “sustainable."

Thompson and Crownover undoubtedly have intriguing insights to the world of sustainable print that have us considering how to increase our own sustainability efforts and how sustainability may change the printing industry over time.

Check out the full interview, and join the conversation by registering for Sustainability Strategies Luncheon: Inside and Out.