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For Genuine Sustainability, Add a “4th P” to Your Bottom Line

by Pier Luigi Sassanelli

Over the last three years numerous market studies, conducted in over 60 countries, have revealed there’s only one thing that people will pay extra for — sustainability. Despite the difficult economic climate of the last decade, with salaries and buying power often much reduced, almost three out of four consumers — in particular, the so-called “millennials” — are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products and services.

If you’re a forward-looking printer, this represents an opportunity to maintain margins, but it pays to ask yourself what exactly we mean by “sustainability.” For most people, it means saving energy, reducing waste and using renewable resources where possible, but in reality, there is much more to it than that.

To be sure your business is truly sustainable you need to measure a “triple bottom line” that takes into account the full cost of running your business. Traditionally, most companies just focus on profit (or loss), but there are two other “Ps” you need to measure to establish your sustainability credentials. The first P stands for “People” and describes the impact of your operations on society (a difficult task); the second stands for “Planet”, and measures how your operations affect the environment (a truly complex task).

It’s worth the effort, however, because the outcome of these measurements will be a set of sustainability objectives that you can proactively communicate to customers, thus differentiating yourself in the crowded package printing market. And why stop at just three Ps? If you want to really stand out from your competitors, there’s a fourth you can add — the Printing Process. If you streamline all aspects of your operation, your offering becomes even more appealing.

However, to create a flexo printing operation that is genuinely more sustainable you need to acknowledge the importance of the overall supply chain, and your contribution to it. This means going further than simply communicating your credentials to your customers; it means nourishing a dialogue with and between all stakeholders — repro houses, other printers, consumables suppliers and, importantly, print buyers — on all the sustainability issues that concern everyone.

Encouraging such a dialogue is one of the goals of Kodak’s Global Flexo Innovation Awards. Launched to mark the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the revolutionary FLEXCEL NX system, the programme will highlight the overall rise of flexo over the last decade, while demonstrating the role played by both the technology and FLEXCEL NX users. The closing date for entries is 31st December 2018.

One of the four key criteria entries should demonstrate is a commitment to sustainable print. The independent judging panel that I chair will be at pains to understand the role of the “4th P” — the Printing Process — in your overall sustainability effort, and the extent to which you have involved the value chain in defining your offering.