It's about how a vendor does business
Of course, there's more to sustainability than recycling. Increasingly, it's a matter of how a company does business. When it comes to production printing and document management hardware, consider a company with a record of implementing sustainable business practices. Does the company meet stringent standards for quality and environmental responsibility through procedures that minimize energy consumption, emissions, and waste? What about logistics—moving parts or equipment from Point A to Point B? Has the company adapted its processes to support a sustainable environmental program? Is it powering truck fleets with alternative fuels like biodiesel? Is it using carbon neutral biomass fuels to power its production plants? What about emissions? Is it working to reduce or eliminate them?
The use of energy is another important environmental indicator considering the greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning natural gas and other fuels. Sustainable companies use green or renewable energy sources for heating, cooling, and production, and/or are studying ways to reduce energy consumption and improve efficiency. As for the product you're considering—if you want to determine if it's energy-efficient, look for the familiar ENERGY STAR® emblem. ENERGY STAR is a U.S. government backed program created by the EPA to help businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. Any product that bears the ENERGY STAR logo has met stringent guidelines for energy efficiency. Not every company will be able to respond in the affirmative on all counts—but look for an overarching pattern of eco-friendly business practices.
Waste handling and emissions are top-of-mind concerns for sustainability. Waste handling comes in three basic flavors— hazardous chemicals, industrial waste and domestic waste. Most industrial waste can be recycled, so look for a company that recycles and re-uses these components—and designs photoconductors and consumables to last longer. Meanwhile, reducing ozone, dust, and toner emissions should be a key initiative for any eco-responsible company.
Compliance with regulations and standards also plays a role in many technology companies' strategies. Most notable is the restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), which became effective in Europe in July of 2006 and in California in January 2007. RoHS places limits on the use of six hazardous materials (lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether [PBDE] flame-retardants) in new electrical and electronic equipment.
The UN Global Compact encourages a precautionary approach to environmental challenges, initiatives that promote greater environmental responsibility and development of environmentally friendly technologies through research, innovation, and self-regulation. ISO 14001 compliance indicates that a company has met one of the world's most respected standards for environmental responsibility. Compliance with any of these directives indicates a commitment to sound environmental practices.
To learn more about sustainability and how it is part of our DNA, download the Free Wide Format Printing Sustainability White Paper.
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