Blueline Update 2021

Blueline’s top-rated printers pull ahead of the pack by embracing the consumer revolution advocating for environmental protection

The past 18 months of lockdowns and uncertainty have been a period like no other in our lifetimes. The global COVID 19 pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives, as well as our businesses. The North American print sector has not escaped unscathed. While some aspects of the printing industry grew, such as packaging, other companies faced closures, laid-off workers, and the kind of forced consolidation that leads to primarily prioritizing the bottom line. In the wake of these difficulties, some printers felt the need to stop focusing on their environmental goals and leadership.

Yet the businesses that we have seen thrive throughout this difficult time have continued to prioritize environmental protection. As the world paused and took stock of what really mattered, such as the safety of citizens and the health of the planet, there has been a palpable desire to not return to business as usual, but rather to improve business by making environmental sustainability a priority.

A 2020 global survey found that consumers “have dramatically evolved”, and that 60% reported making more environmentally friendly, sustainable, or ethical purchases since the start of the pandemic.[1]  Another poll revealed that 65% of global respondents feel “that it is important that climate change is prioritized in the economic recovery after coronavirus”.[2] Forward-thinking companies understand that maintaining and improving their environmental commitments will give them an edge over their competition.

This year, in place of our Annual Blueline Ranking, we offer an amended update on the 2019 top-performing printers in North America, and we commend the leadership they have demonstrated during these difficult months to:

  • Expand their commitment to not source from Ancient and Endangered Forests as it applies to packaging as well as paper;
  • Support conservation on the ground in Landscapes of Hope; and
  • Participate in Canopy’s International Day of Forests awareness-raising campaign by educating and engaging their own clientele and supporters.

To illustrate that this update is slightly different, we are not using our usual colour-coded ink drops to indicate how a printer has ranked. Instead, we are using ink drops to represent recent actions taken for leadership on sustainability and forest conservation, which continue to build on their excellent positioning earned in the 2019 Blueline Ranking.

Printers with the most ink drops took action to improve their current sourcing while increasing the amount of recycled or Next Gen content in their paper and packaging. In the coming months and years, Next Generation Solutions such as using agricultural residue or other waste streams to make pulp for paper will become increasingly necessary to save forests at the scale we need to prevent climate change and halt the cascading loss of species. What’s more, the 750+ brands that Canopy collaborates with to improve their sourcing are demanding it.

It is our pleasure to highlight the work of the following printers, who continued to prioritize forest conservation and low-footprint, sustainable paper sourcing throughout the challenges of the last year.  These actions are in addition to the strong foundational work that these printers did leading up to the 2019 Blueline Ranking. Below is a summary of additional actions taken more recently:


[3] Printer reports that all shipping containers used contain 80-100% recycled content
[4] Through letters of support for investment or completing a market survey
[5] Next Gen papers contain a percentage of agricultural fibre or residue