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What does carbon measurement mean for the printing industry in 2024?

Carbon footprint is becoming more important than price

This is what some major buyers of print for well-known organisations and brands have told me. Their directive is that reducing carbon is so important that their organisations are prepared to spend more to achieve this.

Not everyone is thinking this way yet, but the trend is spreading. And it is not just big brands that are looking at this: many smaller companies are investing in reducing their carbon footprint.

Printing companies have to reduce their carbon output

If you want to be a supplier to these sorts of companies, it is essential to be able to measure the carbon footprint of each product you produce. It is also vital to have a measurable carbon reduction plan. This does not mean offsetting your emissions or using carbon balanced materials. It means reducing your carbon footprint. If you can’t prove that you are doing this then there are a growing number of companies that will not deal with you.

And there is another big issue that needs to be understood.

Digital uses less carbon than print 

Nearly all digital communication has a lower carbon footprint than a printed equivalent. The carbon footprint of digital is actually much higher than many people realise. For instance, those massive data centres use an awful lot of electricity. However, it is hard to promote print as an eco-alternative. 

So how should the printing industry react? Here are three issues that every printing company should be thinking about.

Have a measurable carbon reduction plan

It is important to have measured your carbon footprint and show how you will reduce it. There is plenty of software that will help you with this.

Some of the changes can be relatively simple. Use electricity from renewable resources. Make sure you have low energy lighting and motion sensitive switches. Think about how you can manage transport and waste more effectively. Encourage car sharing and cycling to work.

Many of these solutions will save money as well. It shouldn’t be a hard business decision. Each change you make will lower the carbon footprint of the products that you produce. And when companies start comparing carbon footprint rather than price, this will start to give you a competitive edge.

Lead the discussion on reducing the carbon footprint of your client’s print

If you do not do this, your customers may start making decisions that you do not want them to. They may slash print runs or even stop creating certain print products altogether. It is far better that you talk about how to reduce the carbon footprint of a product. Equally discuss where there is most waste in their processes and perhaps moving from long runs to just in time production.

Offer print with a high ROI

Digital often works by reaching out to a lot of people cheaply and accepting a relatively low engagement rate. Good print works by being highly targeted and having a high engagement rate. This is where print is able to make a strong showing on a comparison of carbon footprints. 

Equally, some products and services are more essential than others. What can you offer which will be the final print product to  bethreatened by reduction or re-engineering?

The printing industry must take action

If it ignores the evolving demands of the growing number of sustainable companies, print risks being side-lined.

Creating the right sales message around this can be challenging

Check out How To Stop Print Buyers Choosing On Price where you learn how to create powerful sales messages, no matter what type of print seller you are.

Get your free copy of “10 Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them’ (worth £19/$29) right now

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