Are We Over-Selling Precycling?

By | August 31, 2009

These days, print has a hard enough time competing with electronic media on everything from interactivity to inventory to cost. The issue of “greening” and sustainability gives us one more area to compete. Thus, the rush to show that print is green, the process is green, and that even the components of the process, from ink to press components, are green, too.

But are we over-selling? I’m not saying that we are (and in some areas, we aren’t selling hard enough), but it is a question we want to keep in mind. After all, printers, marketers, and end consumers are embracing environmental sustainability, but they are getting shy of greenwashing, too.

On the Inspired Economist this morning, I posted “Pre-Cycling: A Contrarian’s View,” which poses this very question.

Recently, a new term has been coined in the green socioverse — “precycling.” While defined different ways, the term basically refers to a change in customer thinking toward the reduction in waste and a predisposition toward recyclable packaging and packaging or manufacturing components that make products easier to recycle.

There are some great trends coming out of precycling: purchasing products in bulk to reduce packaging; creative re-use of products (re-filling of plastic water bottles with filtered water, re-using plastic coffee containers to store unused paint); use of canvas shopping bags; growth of “do not mail” lists that reduce unwanted catalogs and junk mail; and so on.

These trends provide real, measurable environmental benefits. But it’s easy to oversell precycling, too. In the hype, the danger is that we can end up working against true sustainability.

(Read the rest of this post.)

In the printing industry, we need to understand the true environmental impact of print, the printing process, and its components so that we can position ourselves accurately in the marketplace. This often means looking past the initial marketing hype and understanding what the true environmental impact of these initiatives is. Sometimes it’s less — and sometimes it’s greater — than it may appear on the surface. It’s important that we know the difference.

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3 thoughts on “Are We Over-Selling Precycling?

  1. Michael J

    I think the best work being done on this issue in the industry is Don Carli’s, Institute of Sustianable Communications. Here’s the blurb from the website.

    “We provide research and analysis for organizations of all types and sizes. ISC staff, advisors and fellows have decades of experience in sustainability, environmental management, lifecycle analysis, carbon footprinting, total cost accounting, lean six sigma, value stream mapping, opinion research, supply chain management, operations”

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Nigro

    I would agree that sustainability is a real issue — and a very important issue. It’s not sustainability that is hype. It’s claims about what is “sustainable” or “green” marketing and what is not. Everybody is jockeying for the “green” label, and there is a lot of misinformation and partial information out there. This is an important issue, but people have to do their homework and be very discerning in the decisions they make and not just buy into the clamor of the day.

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