SGP 2018 Community Day Recap

"The State of Sustainability" was the theme for this fifth annual event.
SGP 2018 Community Day

The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership’s (SGP) fifth annual Community Day was held earlier this week in downtown Cincinnati. Attended by printers, suppliers and Fortune 500 brands around a theme of “The State of Sustainability,” the event also marked SGP’s 10th anniversary. SGP is the lone North American whole-facility certification program for the print communication industry. A recap of the day’s events…

Keynote speaker: Ryan Mooney-Bullock

Mooney-Bullock, executive director for the Green Umbrella Regional Sustainability Alliance – which facilitates environmentally focused sustainability collaboration throughout the Greater Cincinnati Area by connecting businesses, educational institutions, government entities and non-profits – explained her personal background, as well as the history and purpose of Green Umbrella. Mooney-Bullock emphasized the importance of building sustainable communities. “Everyone has something to contribute,” she said. “We can draw on talents that are much more diverse than we might imagine.” 

Four panel discussions on the "State of Sustainability" followed…

Recycling Best Practices

Paul Glynn, manager of materials, digital technologies, R&D at Designtex (Portland, ME), reported two inspiring success stories. China’s recent closure to many recyclable materials had left US companies without a partner, causing many to have little choice but to begin to dispose of them in the trash. Glynn – who has also been named the 2019 chair of the SGP Board of Directors – faced the same prospect, but his commitment to sustainability is strong and he patiently and tirelessly found companies willing to work with him. Among them was the company providing rolls of material for window covering. Designtex carefully removes and stores the endcaps and now sells them back to the manufacturer for fifty cents apiece. Designtex has accomplished two major initiatives, the ideas for which originated at the 2017 SGP Community Day.

Glynn also broke down SGP’s new Impact Tracker, a web platform that allows printing facilities to “manage certifications from start to finish and ensure continued progress as they seek to further reduce waste and improve efficiency.” Printers can organize their documents in a single location and view the files the Impact Tracker requires; auditors know when a facility to ready to schedule their on-site audit for certification; and performance metrics can track a printer’s success.

Ashley Hood-Morley, director of sustainability for the Plastics Industry Association (Washington), described a webinar series produced by her association that attempted to educate manufacturers to design products with recycled products whenever possible; to be conscious of the material sourcing; and closing the loop through design and collection at the products’ end life. She spoke of specific local efforts such as malls collecting polybags for bulk pickup.

Plastics & Packaging

Hood-Morley started with a phrase that became a mantra for the day, “Recycling is not dead; it’s in transition.” She recapped the details of the China ban, noting that its effective date of September 2017 hit many industries hard in 2018, as China had been doing 2/3 of the world’s plastic recycling prior to the ban. This has spurred new investments in US recycling, located both at home and abroad, and new capabilities such as chemical extraction increasing the list of recyclable materials. Hood-Morley also said that upcycling is becoming more accessible and that the supply chain is coming together.

David McLain, marketing development manager for Printpack (Atlanta), aspires to change the linear chain of packaging surrounding a product and then ending up in a landfill. Printpack, which produces packaging materials, is attempting to reclaim as much as possible from used packaging. One example of this, a plastic pouch of which was shown at the conference, was a material called Eco Prime. McClain also discussed redesigning packaging to meet brand owner's packaging goals.


Top Value Fabrics (Carmel, IN) Product Marketing Manager Mike Compton offered some interesting statistics: only 5% of waste is textile, but 85% of textiles are not recycled. Each person landfills 70 lbs. of textiles on average, each year. He spoke of the many options for reclaiming and recycling textile.

Glynn spoke of a company in South Carolina named Unify that recycles water bottles into a white thread. They cannot get enough, yet only 10% of water bottles in the US are recycled. 

Events and Building Graphics

Joe Stapley, national accounts manager for Noble Environmental Technologies (San Diego), noted that tradeshows are the second-biggest waste producers behind construction. He encouraged companies to find their employees who are passionate about sustainability, and make sure they are supported. “Everyone one of you can make money on sustainability,” Stapley said. “Do the right thing.”

Marci Kinter, vice president of government and business information for the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (Fairfax, VA), recalled how tradeshow recycling and sustainability efforts have changed over the years. “I now go to events where the (company’s show) goal is zero waste for landfills,” she said. – Mark Kissling & Grant Freking

Signs of the Times May 2019

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