The Print Wire
Other news from the industry
Jan 08, 2014
Verdigris Blog: Fespa Sustainability Awards
medium_laurel3.jpg The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

Fespa has added a Sustainability category to its prestigious international awards programme. We are honoured to have been invited to help judge the entries. Judging is always a tricky business, whether its kids at a Pony Club rally or an important industry award. In the case of the former it’s generally best to decline: all those pushy parents and tearful children. But in the case of the FESPA offer we are very pleased and keen to get involved, because sustainability is so important to our industry. And recognising achievement sets standards that others can strive to meet.

There is also the anticipation that makes judging entries for a prestigious award so very hard to resist. What kind of stuff will companies submit? Will there be any geographical bias, with say, more entries from Europe than the US? And will the standard be up to expectations? Awards projects are a barometer for industry priorities, so that’s another reason to look forward to them.

Such things as colour quality, design sophistication or the extent of environmental impact reductions, tell us a lot about the state of the industry and about the concerns of business owners. How the numbers stack up across the various entry categories will also give us some insights into how companies prioritise their investments: will there be more entries for the sustainability award or will colour quality come out on top? We don’t mind which is more popular because we are avid promoters of both. Digital colour management, standards and process management all have a direct impact on a company’s environmental footprint. We won’t be able to resist sneaking a peak at entries in other categories beyond the Sustainability one!

It is curious how few printing companies make the link between process control and sustainability. Both are about improving profitability through efficiency gains, waste management, faster throughput and optimised capital equipment utilisation. Yet too few printers fully appreciate the links between cutting costs and cutting carbon. By raising the visibility of quality control, colour management, process efficiency and sustainability using digital production tools, FESPA’s awards are improving awareness of digital efficiencies as well as sustainability.

Despite years of effort by suppliers, PR companies and the trade press, getting to grips with digital process control is still hard for many printing companies. This is true for pretty much all areas of print, whether it’s narrow or wide format printing. Traditional habits such as fixing colour on press are long-standing and stubbornly resistant to change. But such habits need kicking, if digital technologies are to be used to their fullest potential. Printing by numbers may seem a little scary, however it is a proven route to better results, less waste and ultimately improved environmental footprints. Hopefully 2014 will be the year that a wider audience starts getting this message.

– Laurel Brunner

Verdigris supporters who make the blog possible: Agfa Graphics (, Digital Dots (, drupa (, EFI (, EcoPrint (, Fespa (, Heidelberg (, HP (, Kodak (, Pragati Offset (, Ricoh (, Unity Publishing ( and Xeikon (
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