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PIAA’s decade of environmental and sustainability leadership

Friday, 28 September 2018
By Laurel Brunner

Environmental leadership, financial benefits: PIAA

It’s wonderful to get a response to the Verdigris blogs, especially responses pointing out mistakes. We’ve had a correction relating to the serial rant about how industry associations don’t do enough to support sustainability and the environment, so we would like to set the record straight.

Our serial rant accuses industry associations of doing too little to encourage awareness of what members can do to improve their sustainability and environmental awareness. The rants apply to printer and publisher associations alike, for instance newspaper industry associations or ones for book publishers. And of course printing and manufacturer associations.

The Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) is however a welcome exception to the apathy. PIAA set up the nationally recognised Sustainable Green Print (SGP) programme in 2009, and it has grown to become Australia’s best recognised and widest implemented industry sustainability programme. It has been implemented in hundreds of print businesses in Australia and crucially, is required in government procurement for tendering.

PIAA has based SGP on what the market needs, and association members appreciate it as a valuable benefit, because they are willing to pay for it. Key to the success of SGP and its credibility is a rigorous accreditation scheme. PIAA CEO Andrew Macaulay views this as critical to the programme’s continued success, he says: “Sustainability programmes are only as credible as their minimum standards and the reliability of these being enforced. SGP has topped its class nationally on both counts.”

Accreditation is even better than setting up guidance for association members. The SGP scheme provides three levels of accreditation for print businesses in Australia and elsewhere. The top level is comparable to requirements for ISO14001 (environmental management systems) and the other two are less demanding to provide a pathway to the top level. Accredited auditors look for scheme compliance based on achieving key deliverables over several months. Companies must also demonstrate monthly that they meet their sustainability targets, and they report annually to maintain their certification.

PIAA says that the SGP programme is successful because it provides a ‘positive commercial proposition’ for print businesses. They save money through reduced waste and energy expenditure, and SGP helps them increase margins. Clients also appreciate the certification, and SGP certified companies have the edge when tendering for work, especially in government and non-profit sectors. Macaulay says that, “SGP has proven its longevity because it was developed to meet environmental outcomes while remaining relevant to our industry. For print businesses faced with an increasing cost of energy a savvy program like SGP makes a lot of sense.”

PIAA’s programme is open to printers around the world keen to improve their sustainability and get the commercial benefits it delivers. SGP is an excellent example for other industry associations to follow, and PIAA’s work should rightly be celebrated. Hats off to you!

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

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