Printing industry sets course to meet today's sustainability challenges

Leaders from retail and printing industry discuss paths to a sustainable future at SGP Community Day 2018


The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP), the leading authority in sustainable printing certifications for print manufacturers held its 2018 SGP Community Day in Cincinnati, November 14 setting a clear direction for a sustainable future.


The fifth annual SGP Community Day included in-depth discussions on a variety of issues and challenges facing the printing industry and the retail market along with informative talks on sustainability metrics, circular economy, green procurement and recycling.


“Working towards a sustainable future is a clear choice for the printing industry – you’re either on the ‘train’ that’s moving forward, or you’re left behind. Sustainability is not a fad. It’s here to stay. It’s addressing your people, your processes and your products. SGP certification fosters a continuous improvement journey toward a sustainable future and provides that needed validation,” said Jodi Sawyer, chair of SGP board and market development manager at FLEXcon. “SGP certification has gone from an achievement to a business-critical certification.”


Key challenges and opportunities for the printing industry that came out of the event:


  • Certification is a priority. Validation through SGP certification provides commitment to sustainability – the proof that brands and print buyers require.
  • With the new SGP Impact Tracker there is instant access to metrics that puts printers on a level with other companies in the supply chain. No longer is there just a printer to printer ad-hoc comparison.
  • There are immediate solutions to environmental challenges. From recycle and reuse of print materials to indoor air quality, printers must consult with their supply chain and others to find immediate solutions.
  • The SGP Community provides leadership in sustainability. SGP Printers, Brand Leaders, Patrons and Resource Partners need to drive local sustainability and recycling initiatives in their communities.


In her keynote, “Building a Community: The Heart and Engine of Sustainability”, Ryan Mooney-Bullock, Director of Cincinnati’s Green Umbrella Regional Sustainability Alliance, spoke about building a community and included group interaction on finding commonality to develop goals. “Green Umbrella facilitates collaboration among more than 200 area non-profits, businesses, educational institutions and governmental entities focused on the environmental aspects of sustainability. With our members, we aim to meet the environmental, social, and economic needs of today while preserving the ability of future generations to do the same,” said Mooney-Bullock. “The success we have of building a community with 100s of organizations and individuals is based on the Collective Impact Model– a common agenda, shared measurement, collective responsibility, constant communication and a professional staff.”


Paul Glynn, Manager of Materials Digital Technologies R&D for Designtex and incoming SGP Chair, led several discussions including a case study of the SGP Sustainability Tracker and the recycling efforts at Designtex. “The SGP Impact Tracker provided insights into our operations that have made small adjustments to the business and our operations yield incremental sustainable advancement and overall better business operations,” said Glynn. “The Tracker is delivering a way to measure the sustainability impact of the entire supply chain.”


In addition to presenting the benefits of using the SGP Impact Tracker, Paul shared how SGP Community Day 2017 in Oregon inspired the Portland, Maine, based Designtex to reexamine its recycling efforts. “Not only did The Renewal Workshop presentation inspire us as a textile manufacturer, it spurred Designtex to look at recycling in a different perspective,” commented Glynn. “We went back and looked at everything not being recycled and started working on every possible way to incorporate all the 3 Rs into our waste sorting program and to avoid the landfill option wherever possible. Some early success includes having 100% recycling of all our packaging materials.”


The Plastics and Recycling Panel was a lively discussion with David McLain, Market Development Manager, Printpack and Ashley Hood-Morley, Sustainability Director, Plastics Industry Association. “The potential of plastic recycling is all about building the 4 Rs-Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Reclaim into your company’s plastic strategy,” said Hood-Morley. The panelists encouraged the audience to explore new pathways to sustainability and drive conversations with recycling and waste management companies in addition to make behavioral changes in organizations. “The panelists confirmed we are progressing in the right direction. SGP works toward a sustainable future and this means working with local companies and municipal services to drive recycling,” commented Sawyer. “The actual amount of recyclable materials being recycled is very low. We must work together to make sure each of us recycles to the fullest extent possible.”


Cincinnati State Visit

Before SGP Community Day, new SGP Resource Partner Cincinnati State College hosted the SGP Executive Committee for an engaging discussion with students studying graphic arts, print and production. The school joins Appalachian State University and Rochester Institute of Technology along with associations and professional organizations in the SGP Resource Partner program. “Cincinnati State has been active with Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) for many years. Its graphics program provides relevant education and training for the ever-changing printing industry,” said Doreen Monteleone, SGP board member and FTA representative. “A key part of the program is sustainability. Students have a good understanding of sustainability along with the talent, drive, dedication and opportunity to succeed. They are making the connection with the importance of sustainable printing practices. SGP looks forward to collaborating with Cincinnati State on future sustainability projects and initiatives.”


10th Anniversary Dinner

The day closed with an intimate dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of SGP. “Looking toward the future, the last 10 years of SGP have brought us to a point in a time for expansion and leadership of SGP in the printing industry and the retail supply chain,” said Marci Kinter, SGP board member and Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) representative. “SGP has led the print industry on the sustainability journey and will continue to drive a more sustainable future,” added Kinter. “We will continue to work on key initiatives to keep SGP relevant—the integration of TLMI L.I.F.E. certified printers, providing program enhancements through the SGP Impact Tracker, establishing the SGP Foundation as a leading resource for sustainability in the printing industry and its supply chains, and exploring feasibility of SGP certification for suppliers and more services to support our SGP certified printers.”


To learn more about getting print facilities SGP Certified, visit


About SGP

The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) certifies printing facilities’ sustainability best practices. SGP advocates best practices and innovation among print community stakeholders, aligning the printing industry and its customers in the pursuit of a more accountable sustainable supply chain. SGP works with patrons such as 3M, International Paper, ECOR, FLEXcon, North American Plastics, Piedmont Plastics, Gilman Brothers, Cooley/Group and numerous other leading brands.