The Print Working Group identified early on that the biggest challenge within sustainable print is the lack of knowledge within the industry on both sides of print buying and supply.
To address this problem conversations needed to be shaped by three themes; education, materials and end of life. The group has already developed resources to share with the wider industry including the Better Buying for Print – An Event Planners Guide.
Continuing to activate the idea of collaboration the working group extended outside of suppliers only to bring into the group reach the print buyers within agencies i.e. print managers, producers and artworkers, who play an invaluable and critical role in print procurement and delivery for events. By opening up the network and including these voices, print suppliers have a greater understanding of the pressures experienced on the other side.
This need and the themes identified by the group helped to form the basis for the inaugural isla Sustainable Print Open Day which aimed to engage print buyers to share their experiences and hear from other members operating in the same space.
The Sustainable Print Open Day
The first isla Sustainable Print Open Day was hosted by MacroArt, at their idyllic HQ in Cambridge. One of the founding working group members, MacroArt opened the doors to representatives from six agency member organisations – Smyle, WRG, Ice Experience, Amplify, DesignScene and TRO.
MacroArt has made great strides on its own sustainability journey and is passionate about supporting clients with their sustainability objectives. This provided the perfect opportunity to facilitate learning and knowledge-sharing about the many facets involved in the sustainable print process.
Any business, of any size, will generate emissions and waste within its operations. This is almost unavoidable. Adda manufacturing functions into that and emissions skyrocket.
Kicking off with a session on “why print isn’t sustainable in principle” MacroArt shared its 5-year transformation to cultivate a culture of minimal waste and the best materials to keep their emissions as low as possible.
Next stop: the ‘Sustainability Tour’ of the MacroArt Production Hub. This provided an opportunity to see this approach in practice.
From start to finish the group explored the pre-press software that groups similar print jobs together to maximise material usage and limit wastage. Any wastage that is created onsite is managed through a strict waste management process with separate bins for removal ensuring the end life of materials is extended or disposed of in the correct way.
One of the highlights of the tour was the colour management process where servicing of the print machinery is paramount. Bi-weekly testing helps foresee any issues and means less wasteful reprints owing to colour discrepancies.
The tour wrapped up with a presentation from MacroArt’s Production Director, Mark Rose about the world of sustainable print materials and the rigorous testing process all new materials go through before they get into the hands of MacroArt’s clients.
Connecting the dots – Print Buyer round table
A large part of this day was about opening up the Print Working Group to print specialists within the agency members to create a wider network and opportunities for engagement. By engaging with Print buyers we are able to gauge a real snapshot of the other side of the industry – what are clients asking for? Is sustainability a priority for brands? Collectively the group brought to light some of the key challenges and pressures they face when delivering sustainable print projects for their clients.
Insight like this forms the basis for creating more open and honest relationships with their print partners whilst setting out the expectation around responsible print buying. What questions to ask, what answers to push back on and how to simply improve on performance. All these learnings the group could then take back into their agencies to inform future conversations with clients and suppliers.
Along with other members of the Print Working Group, MacroArt is helping us to collate our print materials Tips and Tricks guide which is soon to be released to members. They have done extensive testing of various materials over the years, and recognise that if we can stop another printer from performing expensive and wasteful tests, we can share that knowledge.
As an action-driven network, we draw upon the expertise within the community to help facilitate knowledge sharing and the open day was a true example of that. After the success of the print open day, isla will be hosting further events in partnership with the print working group.
We would encourage anyone interested in buying a print, or anyone concerned about gaps in knowledge to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved in the Print Working Group. We would love to engage with you to try and spread this knowledge, taking the emphasis off the printers themselves to solve this problem and open it up to the wider chain. As the saying goes – a problem shared is a problem halved.