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Get Your Green On

Companies discuss implementing eco-friendly initiatives

May 2010 By Elise Hacking Carr
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Green is the new black. But is that shade of green lightening? Steve Vogel, marketing specialist of De Pere, Wisconsin-based Independent Printing Company has been observing this trend and believes that may be a positive for those companies that are serious about being eco-friendly.

"While it seems like the green hype is fading, it's a good thing. Because most of it was just that—hype. Now customers are smarter and they do research more to find companies that are serious in being environmentally responsible and taking action versus a company tooting its green horn just to get you to open your wallet," he asserted.

New green initiatives may be waning due to expenses. "There was a definite spike in 'green' product interest, but there has been a decline in those inquiries. Cost seems to be the determining factor, as well as the availability of raw materials in the quantities (usually smaller quantities) needed," said Mark Gerling, executive vice president of sales and marketing of Parsons, Kansas-based The Flesh Company. "In many cases, there are minimum order volumes that exceed what is needed to produce a given job. For the most part, the excess material that we are required to purchase is rolled into the cost of the job, significantly inflating the cost to the customer. We have several customers for whom we have manufactured products that use SFI-certified paper, and any additional business is appreciated."

Vogel encouraged customers not to be dissuaded by costs. "Every day that you're not getting 'greener,' I think it's hurting your company. These days customers demand eco-responsibility as a standard. Not only that, reducing, reusing and recycling saves money and that's definitely important considering the economic state."

However, he admitted his company is seeing many more eco-conscious, but cost-sensitive, customers. They want the sustainability factor, but are not willing to put out the extra money. To serve these customers, Innovative Printing Company continues to develop new solutions and search for alternative and less expensive green materials, Vogel said.

He also recommended companies consider starting out on a smaller scale. "Look at the big picture, trim the fat, start reusing items, reducing costs and waste wherever you can. The money your company saves you can put towards purchasing more efficient equipment and eco-conscious raw materials," he commented.

Gerling shared these sentiments. Companies can look beyond materials and products to reduce their energy consumption. "Most companies are looking at the cost benefit from any process changes they make. Some green initiatives are expensive. Think more about efficient lighting or HVAC or windows or insulation in your home. Then compare the size of your home to the size of most printing factories and you can start to imagine what it costs to improve energy efficiency. And in a down economy, those costs could be crippling. So, from a cost benefit standpoint, we are looking for the 'low-hanging fruit,'" he said.

 

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