Research Shows Customers Want to Trust – and Verify

Originally published in Printing Impressions by Catherine Stewart.

As focus on the environment increases—from government commitments on climate action to personal and corporate sourcing of ethical products—it shouldn’t surprise us that customers want more information. As a recent global CSR report verified “nearly all global consumers expect companies to act responsibly, but half need to hear or see proof of a company’s responsibility before they will believe it.” (Cone Communications, 2015(1))

It’s been said by many strong voices, including Forbes as early as 2010, there is “no sustainability without transparency.” To tackle customer skepticism and growing expectations of truly sustainable performance, companies must be increasingly willing to share information on their efforts to improve CSR and their impacts across multiple touch points.

The Cone report also noted, “Consumers say they pay attention to two things: companies that are going above and beyond with CSR efforts and companies that are being called out for poor CSR performance. Companies can get attention the right way through bold goals and clear, consistent CSR communications.”

Given the importance of this information to print customers, Canopy’s award-winning(2) Blueline Report 2015 ranks major printers on a set of 29 key sustainability and transparency criteria. It’s a powerful B2B tool in today’s competitive sales environment, shedding light on the North American print sector’s leadership on voluntary and transparent environmental and CSR reporting.

Following the launch of The Blueline Report at the Sustainable Brands San Diego conference, and the positive response it garnered from large print customers, many printers increased the transparency of their public reporting.

Yet the gap between the leaders and printers that are slower to move continues to widen. Seven of the top 30 printers by sales in North America (Printing Impressions 400, 2014) still have no substantial sustainability content on their sites. Who are the leaders and the laggards? A summary of fall 2015 ranking updates, The Blueline Report and matrix are available at :http://canopyplanet.org/resources/2015-blueline-report/

Increasing both transparency and the sustainability of forest fiber supply chains is an attainable goal. Global clothing companies participating in our CanopyStyle initiative know CSR and transparency are important to their customer base. Customer-savvy fashion brands demonstrate leadership and action, not only by implementing environmental policies, but publicly posting them on their websites. Canopy partner brands such as H&M, Zara/Inditex, Levi Strauss & Co, and renowned designer Stella McCartney, are sending a clear signal to the public about their willingness to be open, active and transparent while letting suppliers know what is expected of them. Progressive print leaders can take similar actions.

There are many benefits to transparent environmental leadership, a powerful sales tool being top among them.

Canopy is here to support your company’s path to more sustainable paper procurement and transparent CSR reporting. Your efforts will improve your company’s standing in The Blueline Report—and with your customers. We’ll be updating The Blueline Report Matrix again in the spring. Printers are welcome to contact our team at any time to discuss the report, their ranking and ways to strengthen their sustainability performance in 2016. The deadline for web updates to be included in the next reassessment is March 31, 2016.

(1) www.conecomm.com/2015-cone-communications-ebiquity-global-csr-study

(2) On November 12th, The Blueline Report was awarded the Gold for ‘Most Environmentally Progressive Printing Service’ at the 2015 Print Action Awards.

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