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Leaders In Sustainability
Take command. Be effective. Influence. These qualities make up the fabric of true leadership and reflect the companies that do more than just embrace sustainability in the print community – they’re helping to make sustainability the new norm. This is SGP’s goal, and these are just some of the companies that are helping to bring it to fruition.
Featured Certified Printer
Plastic Packaging Inc.'s BOTTOM LINE: Reduction of 53%! Annual savings of 149,000 kwh anticipated!
Building Energy Usage Reduction -- Designed warehouse lighting to reduce energy consumption by 25% by installation and operation of an automatic lighting control systems that utilizes sensors to turn off non-essential lighting during production periods when there is no activity in the warehouse. In addition, approximately one-third of the existing warehouse fixtures were removed as it was discovered that lighting levels in the warehouse were significantly higher than required for work functions carried out in this space.
A Conversation with Brett Thompson, Director of Environmental Affairs for Laird Plastics
February 6, 2013
As the largest independent distributor of semi-finished plastic shapes and parts in North America, Laird Plastics recognizes the importance of sustainability -- for the environment and for profitability. In 2012, Laird became a gold level patron of the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP). Brett Thompson, Director of Environmental Affairs for Laird Plastics recently shared his story about Laird’s sustainability journey and the role that SGP plays in this endeavor.Show More
SGP: When Laird’s sustainability journey begin? Was there a particular person, or event that served as a trigger?
Brett Thompson (BT): Our journey started in late 2006 and early 2007. Sales teams were receiving an increasing number of inquiries for ‘green’ alternatives to the products they were currently buying. By 2008, Laird’s Market Development Team realized we needed to address the issue head on, and formed an Environmental Steering Committee to develop future environmental strategies. In January 2009, Laird created a business unit (Laird Plastics Recycling- Environmental - Consulting or LP R E C) dedicated to plastic recycling and sustainable supply chain management.
SGP: Who championed the journey?
BT: It was truly a team effort. We recognized the value that our knowledge of plastics would have for our customers, as well as an opportunity to create competitive advantage for Laird. Back then, I worked as a sign and graphics Market Development Manager covering the Western United States. Based on the enormous amount of feedback received from the field, I put a concept together and presented it to Laird executives. Once we worked through the details and developed a workable model, Laird executives became the primary drivers, specifically Mark Kramer CEO, and Kevin Short, Western Regional Executive.
SGP: What was the original goal or objective(s)?
BT: Aside from profitability, there were two main objectives. First, to improve the public perception of plastics. We needed to educate our customers about the recyclability and sustainability of plastics. This would include conveying end user concerns upstream into our vendor base, while relaying manufacturing capabilities or limitations downstream. As a result, Laird emerged as a de-facto filter of sorts, sifting through erroneous manufacturing claims and greenwashing attempts that confused customers. The second objective was to develop an efficient infrastructure that could accommodate the recycling needs of 57 Laird locations and our customers. Potential channel partners had to have core values similar to those of Laird (hard work, continuous self improvement, empowerment, honesty and integrity), and a willingness to work together for mutual benefit, making the recycling process more transparent to the end user.
SGP: Did you reach your original goal? When?
BT: Three years into the project Laird Plastics is not only regarded as the industry leader, but a responsible corporate steward as well. Laird Plastics has received the 2009, 2011, and 2012 IAPD (International Association of Plastics Distributors) Award for Environmental Excellence - Best Overall Program, as well as the 2010 SGIA Environmental Award. And while we are proud of our achievements, we instinctively look to areas needing improvement.
SGP: What concerns you most about your sustainability journey today? Has your company set new goals? If so, what are they? If you’re still working on your original goals, what are you finding most challenging?
BT: In reality, this is a journey without end. We now know that raising public awareness and providing transparency to the process raises the bar for all. Future objectives will refine our methods and expand our reach. Our biggest challenge by far, will be to keep interest levels high to stave off environmental or recycling fatigue.
SGP: What do you hope your company will achieve next on its sustainability journey?
BT: I would like to think that the plastics community can come together and work on a cause that lifts all boats. We cannot hope to see societal behaviors change until we move the needle within our own industry.
SGP: How does SGP fit into your company’s sustainability journey?
BT: In truth, SGP and LP REC were created along parallel paths. Laird Plastics has worked with SGIA for years, and watched closely as SGP came to life. We feel that distribution and sustainable supply chain management is a natural extension of SGP’s mission, and we wanted our efforts to dovetail those of SGP. We also knew that Laird had to take a leadership role if suppliers and domestic manufacturing were to be part of the equation.
SGP: How has your organization benefited from being early sustainability adopters?
BT: A big part of Mark Kramer’s leadership style is to walk the talk, and our sustainability strategy is an extension of that philosophy. Our environmental initiatives are a necessary facet of leadership and one of the first things people associate with Laird Plastics.
SGP: How have your clients benefited from your company’s commitment to sustainability?
BT: Customers appreciate the level of detail and transparency we can provide for their recycling efforts. Their recycling transactions are conducted with as much honesty and integrity as they see on their front end sheet
purchases and we are willing to provide them with data to support their efforts. In addition, many companies ask us for guidance with product selection or setting up their own Environmental Management Strategy (EMS).
SGP: Would you encourage others to take their own sustainability journey, and if so, why? What would you tell them to help them?
BT: Every company should have some semblance of an environmental policy. At the very least, to be aware of consumption, product usage, and identifying inefficiencies. The days of burying one’s head in the sand are over. When getting started, be patient. Look for quick victories that can build momentum, and go from there. Business owners need to lead by example and stress the importance of new initiatives to every level, unit, or department of their business. And lastly, remember its a marathon not a sprint. Choose to do things right rather than fast.
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About Laird Plastics:
Laird Plastics is the largest independent distributor of semi-finished plastic shapes and parts in North America. The company’s multi-national team of over 400 employees services over 25,000 customers across North America in all segments of commercial, industrial and advertising activity. Laird offers a comprehensive network of service centers and inventories with an extensive product range including such major segments as acrylics and polycarbonates, graphics materials (substrates and a variety of higher end materials) and mechanical/engineering materials (UHMW, LDPE, HDPE, nylons, acetals.) For more information, go to www.lairdplastics.com.
SGP is a non-profit organization providing sustainability certification in the graphic communications industry. The organization promotes reducing the environmental impact and increasing the social responsibility through sustainable green printing practices. To receive SGP Certification, print facilities go well beyond compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws. They establish sustainability management systems, implement best practices, and commit to continuous improvements in sustainability. Certified facilities are also required to report on progress annually. For more information about the SGP Partnership, the SGP Patron program, or the SGP certification process, visit www.sgppartnership.org or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insight into 3M's Sustainability Journey
October 25, 2012
Is sustainability a winning business strategy? 3M thinks so. In this Q&A, 3M shares some insight into its goals and what it plans to achieve next in its sustainability journey. Plus, find out SGP role in 3M sustainability initiatives and how 3M has benefitted from its commitment to sustainability.Show More
Tell us about 3M’s sustainability journey.
3M has a long history of sustainable initiatives, dating back into the early 1970s. One of the earliest initiatives was championed by our then Vice President for Pollution Control and Engineering, Joe Ling. He realized that pollution and waste were really the result of manufacturing inefficiencies. He understood that prevention was the key. We optimized our manufacturing process and initiated the Pollution Prevention Pays (3P) program, which prevents pollution at the source through product reformulation, process modification, equipment redesign and recycling and reusing waste materials. To date, 3M has implemented over 9,300 3P team innovations and prevented more than 3.5 billion pounds of pollution.
What are 3M’s sustainability goals, and what will it achieve next on its sustainability journey?
3M released its first set of environmental goals in 1990. Since then, 3M has cut green house gas emissions by more than 72% worldwide, reduced Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions by 96% and decreased energy usage by 82%. We know we can do more. We’ve set new goals to reach by 2015:
- Reduce volatile air emissions 15% from 2010 base year, indexed to net sales.
- Reduce waste 10% from 2010 base year indexed to net sales.
- Improve energy efficiency 25% from 2005 base year, indexed to net sales.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 5% by 2011 from 2006 base year, indexed to net sales. (Goal was set in 2007).
- Develop water conservation plans when 3M is located in water scarce and stressed areas.
We’re excited and proud that since the inception of these new goals we have achieved an 8.6% reduction in VOCs and a 9.2% reduction in waste. We’ve also improved our energy efficiency by 32% since 2005, reduced greenhouse gases by 55% since 2006 and have developed 100% of our original water conservation plans.
Our culture of innovation is driving us to do more. 3M adheres to the triple bottom line (People, Planet, Profit) and one challenge we face is developing more environmentally friendly products for our customers that are both performance and price competitive.
Our collaborative product development process has spurred the creation of several new technologies. These technologies have been used to develop best-in-class performing products with a sustainability edge. New 3M™ Envision™ Wrap Film 480Cv3 and 3M™ Envision™ Gloss Wrap Overlaminate 8548G are the first high performance wrap films with a sustainability edge; and 3M™ Envision™ Translucent and Diffuser Films are the first graphic films that optimize LED light.
How does SGP fit into 3M’s sustainability journey?
We put just as much effort and commitment into developing high-performing products as we do into creating inspired partnerships. Sustainability for 3M is more than just working to improve our own impact on the environment; it’s also about empowering our customers to achieve their own goals. Partnering with SGP is an excellent means to accomplishing this. SGP can be the catalyst to help print shops take the first step and SGP can continue to help printers reach new goals as the shops make progress in their own sustainability journey.
How has 3M benefited from being early sustainability adopters?
New technologies, new manufacturing methods and a new way of looking at the industry—at 3M sustainability is evolutionary. By remaining passionate about providing a progressive and holistic approach to practices that support economic, social and environmental sustainability for over 70 years, we’ve earned the 12th ranking on Interbrand’s Best Global Green Brands in 2012, as well as winning eight consecutive Sustained Excellence Awards for Energy Management from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy. Sustainability has been profitable for us too; our Pollution Prevention Pays programs have saved over $1.5 billion.
How have 3M’s customers benefited from its commitment to sustainability?
3M has made a strong commitment to advance our sustainability journey. Our clients can be assured that although we may not have every solution to meet their sustainability needs, we will continue to develop innovative, sustainability solutions - it’s part of our DNA.
We believe innovation is a powerful force for progress. And we want to help ensure our customers’ success in the dynamic environments of visual communications. That’s what drove us to invent tomorrow, today and create the 3M™ Envision™ brand. We think this brand is going to change the industry. It offers leading-edge technology, best-in-class performance and has a distinct sustainability edge.
This gives our customers what they’ve been asking for: more sustainability options that don’t sacrifice performance; and that should help them improve their bottom line as well as help them stay ahead of their competition.
Do you encourage others to take their own sustainability journey, and if so, why?
We believe sustainability is a winning business strategy; and in an industry where innovation is a powerful force for progress, we’re excited to advance and contribute to its success.
We strongly encourage our customers to start their own sustainability journey. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it can help save them money.
Ultimately we think it’s better to prevent pollution than to try to clean it up later. And as with any initiative, it’s important to start with obtainable goals such as recycling office paper, turning off lights and computer monitors when not in use. These actions make a difference and they’ll help build the momentum necessary to tackle larger objectives.
A Likely Partnership for Sustainability and POP
April 26, 2012
Reducing companies’ environmental footprint is paramount for point-of-purchase (POP) display manufacturer Falconboard. Founded in 2009, its client list already boasts large, sustainable-minded companies such as Sears, JCPenney, PetSmart, Eddie Bauer, Walmart, and Whole Foods, who use its sustainable, printable rigid graphic board for their POP displays. “We created the brand to fill gaps in the market, but we didn’t stop there. We listened to customers so we could fulfill their objectives,” comments Tim Bolton, Director of Consumer Products.Show More
In the past, retailers only had corrugated, petroleum-based, or wood structures to choose from for their POP displays. With an increased demand for a greater environmental profile, customers are opting for Falconboard’s recyclable products, which are 100% paper-based and made from renewable resources. As a result, Falconboard is exceeding its goals year upon year, but its success is not without some challenges.
Bolton explains, “Since the economic downturn, the value of sustainability has been stripped, and customers are focusing on bottom line pricing. Sometimes there’s a conflict.”
But the company has not been deterred. With a continued demand for sustainable POP solutions, Falconboard is focused on product development. The company is also creating exposure and accessibility to its products. One of the ways Falconboard achieves this is through its partnership with Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP), a nonprofit organization providing sustainability certification in the graphic communications industry.
Partnering with SGP
“Partnering with SGP is important to Falconboard because it aligns with our core vision,” Bolton says. “As a manufacturer, we are only part of the puzzle. SGP brings together all parties interested in sustainability -- retailers, certified printers, and other manufacturers. It’s a necessary partnership, and working together, we can all grow.”
Falconboard was one of the first companies to support SGP. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Falconboard’s sustainable products are important to many of the SGP Certified printers, who offer environmentally-friendly alternatives for retailers’ printing needs.
“SGP makes it easy for retailers to meet their sustainability requirements. They simply work with an SGP Certified facility, which has all the supplies that retailers need to produce sustainable POP displays and other marketing pieces.”
“Other than it being the right thing to do, SGP adds credibility to our initiatives as a sustainable manufacturer,” notes Bolton. “It allows our message to go out on a broader basis.”
With its partnership with SGP, Falconboard is well on its way to becoming the most recognizable sustainable solution for retailers’ POP displays, signage, exhibits, and more. Together, the organizations are advancing sustainability, one certified printer at a time.