With the undoubted rise in eco-consciousness, sustainability should now be at the heart of print service providers (PSPs)' business operations. HP is launching a series of online events to support PSPs on their sustainability journey.
In the interview that follows Wilbert Van Der Lans, senior brand and communication strategist at Make Sense - and participant in the first HP Coffee Talk event - discusses the motivations behind moving towards a more planet-friendly future.
Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role with Make Sense?
Make Sense is a communications agency with a clear focus on sustainability. We like to bring worlds together: creativity and strategy; digital and traditional; internal and external; local and global; and purpose and profit. I truly believe that companies which take their responsibilities seriously by bringing their purpose and profit in balance today will be the major brands of tomorrow.
Why is it so important for print service providers to pay attention to the environment?
We've already passed the moment of simply ‘paying attention' to the environment; now it's time for action. For a PSP - or indeed any other business - it's important to take care of the environment for multiple reasons.
Firstly, by taking care of our environment, we are taking care of ourselves and the generations to come. Simply put: if the environment flourishes, you and your business will also flourish.
Secondly, stakeholders are beginning to demand more sustainable business behaviour and actions. Not only end-user customers, but also business partners, suppliers, employees, new graduates, shareholders, and investors.
Finally, governments are putting more rules and regulations in place relating to business's impact on the environment. To keep their ‘licenses to operate', businesses will need to demonstrably take more care of the environment.
What are the dangers of avoiding taking action now? How might this impact your business?
Nowadays it's almost impossible for businesses to avoid the topic of sustainability or corporate social responsibility (CSR). This does not mean all businesses are at the same level or phase to run a fully conscious business model. However, you must at least have a reason as to why - or indeed, why not - you take actions to positively improve your impact on society and the environment.
How this might impact a business on the short term greatly depends on the type of industry you are operating in and products and/or services you are offering. But in the long run I believe purpose-led companies will become the norm.
What are the core benefits of becoming more sustainable?
‘Our Common Future', also known as the Brundtland Report, was published in October 1987. This publication was in recognition of Gro Harlem Brundtland's, former Norwegian Prime Minister, role as Chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development. In this report the essence of becoming more sustainable is stated as followed: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
Well, that's the core benefit.
Can you give examples of some of the simple steps print companies can take to become more sustainable?
There are four simple steps to getting you started on your sustainability journey.
Firstly, you need to create internal buy-in upfront. Becoming a sustainable business is not a goal in itself, but a way of doing business.
Secondly, you need to identify key areas where you can make the most positive impact. By analysing your business operations, you can identify and prioritise the issues that are most important to your organisation, and to your stakeholders.
Thirdly, you should build a strategy and action plan based upon the key areas for improvement you've noted. It is also crucial to ensure you are measuring your progress towards a more eco-conscious business model and reporting it back to internal and external stakeholders.
Finally, you need to start communicating your sustainability story. You need to publicise your purpose, your strategy, your concrete initiatives, success stories and the next steps you plan to take. You should use communication as an accelerator to activate and inspire others.
Upcoming series of events hosted by HP
HP has announced a series of EMEA-wide online events to support PSPs on their sustainability journey. Throughout the months of September and October there will be four half-hour long ‘Coffee Talks' focused on different topics. These will culminate in an hour-long webinar on 28th October 2021.
Wilbert Van Der Lans will be speaking at the first HP Coffee Talk event titled ‘Motivations to be Sustainable' on 30th September 2021. To register for the event, please click here.
Dates and topics for other upcoming events are as follows:
- Coffee Talk 2: 7th October 2021 - Brand demand for sustainability
- Coffee Talk 3: 14th October 2021 - Trends towards a circular business model
- Coffee Talk 4: 21st October 2021 - Safety and certification advantages
- HP Sustainability Webinar: 28th October 2021 - Putting sustainability at the heart of your business