Sustainability Issues & Trends

Sustainable procurement, extended producer responsibility, plastic bag bans… the list goes on. Topics under the sustainability umbrella are bountiful and it can be difficult to keep everything straight. PRINTING United Alliance's Issues Hub will help you keep up to date on relevant issues.

Effect of China’s Blue-Sky Initiative

For decades China had been the world’s destination for waste, including about 40% of the United States’ recyclables. In 2018, China China_Blue_skyinitiated a National Sword Policy which just about closed its doors to the world’s waste. Now, China is outright refusing certain types of materials and not accepting others with over a 0.5% contamination rate. This contamination rate is virtually impossible for the US to meet with current infrastructure capabilities as the current US recyclable contamination can reach up to 25%. Many other countries that had accepted wastes, such as Malaysia and Philippines, are following suit, forcing the US and other countries to look for other solutions, including building domestic recycling infrastructure.

State Regulatory Activities

States in the US are beginning to introduce regulations concerning sustainable materials management. Programs include the use of bans on certain materials, or imposition of a tax or fee on the company creating the material that pays for its collection and recycling. These taxes, known as Extended Producer Responsibility regulations, aim to hold manufacturers of a product responsible for its end of life.

Some states have adopted legislative bans on single use plastic products that prohibit the use of items, such as plastic bags or straws from being sold or provided by retail locations. These regulations can have a huge impact on manufacturing as many of the regulated materials are packaging related.


Solar_PanelsThe field of energy has been rapidly changing since the creation of technology that reduces demand or produces renewable energy. Printing facilities, like any other manufacturer should be aware of and working to reduce their carbon footprint from their operations. There are many ways to achieve this such as improving energy efficiency, using renewable energy resources, and offsetting emissions. Learn more about the benefits of reducing your carbon footprint as well as funding opportunities available to help offset the costs.

Sustainable Procurement

Sustainable procurement takes into consideration the economic, environmental, and social impacts when purchasing a product or service. These procurement programs are also referred to as “sustainable”, “green”, or “preferable” procurement guidelines. Some states provide their own guidance as to what products are safe or preferable to use, and the US EPA’s Procurement Program promotes the use of materials recovered from the municipal solid waste stream. These guidelines provide recommendations for the procurement official to consider when evaluating and choosing one good or service over another.