The trend toward corporate transparency and sustainability leadership is taking hold around the globe and across sectors in response to ever escalating customer and consumer demand. The most recent indicator of this was announced in March when up and coming global clothing giant Uniqlo posted — publicly — a list of 150 suppliers as part of a broad sustainability platform.
Highlighting Uniqlo’s increased transparency, the Nekkei Asian Review reported, “Many Western companies have responded to the shifting tide toward ethical consumption. U.S. retailer Gap and Britain’s Marks and Spencer disclosed supplier factories last year. H&M (Hennes & Maruitz) of Sweden and America’s Nike have publicized theirs as well.”[i]
U.S. business publication, Inc.com, has also noted this shift and it goes far beyond the apparel sector. “In order to be counted as a truly sustainable business, a company’s supply chain must be sustainable. As companies make sustainability demands of their suppliers, and those suppliers make similar demands on theirs, a spider’s web of sustainable practices and transparent reporting is extending itself across the globe.”[ii]
Transparent reporting and sustainability leadership are at the heart of Canopy’s Blueline Ranking of North American printers across a robust series of sustainability indicators. The Blueline Ranking is a tool increasingly valued by print customers striving to meet their own CSR objectives. And the latest edition of the Blueline Ranking will be published this Thursday, July 27.
Last spring, the Canopy team began analyzing the publicly reported sustainability policies and practices of major printers. The resulting analysis directs print customers to the sector leaders in environmental responsibility.
Thirty-two specific criteria are used to evaluate the sustainability of North American print leaders, including their sourcing policies, fiber preferences, the availability of certified and recycled paper products, CSR reporting and most importantly, their level of transparency on these important indicators. Given new developments in the realm of sustainability since the last Blueline Ranking was issued, additional criteria focused on forest conservation initiatives and supply chain shifts will also be assessed in the 2017 analysis.
The printed medium is a major part of a company’s face to the world. Increasingly, brands have recognized that printed materials can minimize their environmental impacts, depending on the eco-credentials of their printers and the papers used for the job. It is well documented that the high carbon footprint of printing is mainly attributable to paper choices, much of which can be avoided by not sourcing papers that originate from the logging of ancient and endangered forests. For many brands, working with sustainable print partners and using papers with high recycled fiber, straw or FSC fiber content is an increasingly important element of meeting their own sustainability targets.
Nor is it just print customers who are scrutinizing a company’s environmental performance. Business journals are reporting that institutional investors, subject to demands from their own clientele, are starting to preference companies with strong sustainability programs. Stay tuned to find out which printers rank in the top 10.
Note: a previous version of this blog entry was published in Print Impressions in April 2017