Conference Makes Green the Goal


Sustainability is on the agenda at almost every industry meeting these days, but it was the agenda at the recent National Environmental Health & Safety Conference. Subtitled, “Green Pathways to Sustainability,” the event was held March 10-12 at the Sheraton in Indianapolis, IN.

The conference was sponsored by Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Assn. (PIA/GATF), Foundation of Flexographic Technical Assn. (FFTA), the Newspaper Assn. of America, and the Specialty Graphic Imaging Assn. Approximately 200 attendees listened to talks on issues specific to printing and converting technology, as well as those addressing human resources, plant safety, training, ergonomics, and more.

Mark DiVito of Reed Business Information offered the first keynote address, reporting the results of a research study benchmarking the state of sustainability in the printing industry. The research, sponsored by Day Intl. and Xerox, was the third wave of study, with prior waves conducted within the packaging industry. DiVito said the newest study found very little difference between the printing and packaging industries on this topic. One big difference, however, was the importance of Wal-Mart as an environmental leader: In the packaging studies, Wal-Mart had huge numbers, whereas in the printing study, respondents were much more fragmented in their responses.

Brian Shuttleworth, director of global operational risk management and sustainability at H.J. Heinz Co., gave a second keynote speech. In addition to agricultural sustainability programs related to growing tomatoes around the world, Heinz has lightweighting projects underway for packaging and partners with its major suppliers for ways to improve sustainability.

Getting back to Wal-Mart, Shuttleworth brought up the famous scorecard, using as an example P&G's condensed detergent, which he said gets preference on Wal-Mart shelves, advertising space, etc., as a result of being a “greener” package. “Wal-Mart is the biggest driver of this in the world,” he said.

In the session titled “On the Radar Screen,” Jim Kyger of PIA/GATF talked about HR issues; Doreen M. Monteleone, FTA, addressed health and safety; and Gary Jones, director of Environmental, Health, and Safety Affairs for PIA/GATF, reported the EPA agenda today is very active and is on the verge of making a significant decision on ozone standards. He also said EPA is expected to publish a draft of greenhouse gas reporting regulations within nine months and to have final regs in place by June 2009.

The event included a tabletop exhibition; breakout sessions on inks and solvents, carbon footprint calculations, and HR issues; and a training session.

Three associations handed out awards at a luncheon on March 11. The FTA honored Metro Label Co., Toronto, QC, Canada, for process improvement, and Plastics Packaging, Hickory, NC, for innovative technology; C&H Packaging, Merrill, WI, received honorable mention.

Gary Miller, director of PNEAC (Printers' National Environmental Assistance Center), Champaign, IL, presented Paper, Film & Foil Converter an award for Publication of the Year for our September 2007 issue featuring “green converting.” Miller said, “This is truly a reference document on the environment and not only for the printing industry.”

The William D. Schaeffer Environmental Award from PIA/GATF went to Robert Birkland, president of Cirrus Consulting Group, Dallas, PA, an engineer who, among other environmental achievements, worked on the original Clean Air Act. Birkland challenged attendees to get involved with their communities to foster sustainability.

Birkland was introduced by last year's Schaeffer award winner, Stuart McMichael, former president of Custom Print. McMichael spoke with emotion about preserving our “fragile earth.” He said we can do it and be successful in business. The key is common sense.

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