Five Minutes with Vega Press
Eco-friendly printer Vega Press has worked hard to demonstrate its dedication to environmental sustainability. The Melbourne-based business, which has more than 50 years’ experience, has been recognised as a leader in its field by winning local and international environmental business awards acknowledging its commitment to green printing.
We recently sat down with Commercial Manager, Rob Nugent to find out about the challenges of maintaining an eco-friendly business in 2012.
Where did the eco journey begin for VEGA?
Back in 2005, we noticed that some customers were paying greater attention to the source of the paper they were using. This was largely associated with growing awareness of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody (CoC) Certification and the sourcing of paper products from well-managed forests and other controlled sources. Like most printing companies, Vega had always recycled some materials, but with the interest in environmental responsibility growing, we decided to take this a step further by being proactive and attaining certification to international standards. We wanted our customers to know we were taking our environmental responsibilities seriously through FSC CoC and ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems (EMS) Certification.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining an ecofriendly business?
Getting all the procedures in place to meet the standards is a lot of hard work but as these systems mature, it gets much easier. Most of the day-to-day activities, like recycling procedures, become second nature. The most challenging thing for a mature system is the ongoing commitment to continual improvement and working with other businesses in our supply chain to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Most of the improvements we have put in place to reduce energy and water usage have paid for themselves and just make good business sense. However, justifying capital investment isn’t always easy so we are always looking for alternatives that can be implemented with minimal or no additional cost.
What environmental standards should consumers be aware of when printing material?
A key element to eco-friendly printing is the paper choice. We recommend paper that has FSC CoC certification. There is also a range of papers now that have carbon neutral certification. Preferably the print supplier should also have ISO 14001 EMS. If not, ask for a copy of their environmental policy and whether a qualified third party audits their environmental program. I would also recommend asking whether the print supplier knows, or has made any attempt to measure, their carbon footprint. Most businesses that know their carbon footprint have some form of environmental program in place.
Are there any developments on the horizon for VEGA in 2012?
The environmental journey never finishes for us. In 2012, we are aiming to have the business operations certified as carbon neutral in accordance with the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS). In addition, we are reviewing our base load electricity usage again, with the help of external consultants, to identify further opportunities for more efficient energy usage.
Finally, what are your top tips for businesses wanting to get involved in sustainability?
- Don’t put it off. Delaying will actually cost money. It’s hard enough making money in the current economic circumstances. Start by analysing your electricity bill and where you can reduce consumption by doing simple things like de-lamping or turning lights off when you don’t need them.
- Analyse your waste. That means actually going through your rubbish. The more you can recycle, the more you will save on disposal costs.
- Develop a purchasing policy that focuses on using products that are ecologically sound. Check the energy rating before you buy any new equipment or appliances.
- Don’t be frightened to ask for help. Businesses that have already started the environmental journey are usually the best resource. If you don’t know where to start, join the Grow Me The Money program. It’s cheap, very effective and you get results almost immediately. One of the first things they will tell you is you can’t manage what you don’t measure!
For more inspired sustainable business practices that you can implement into your own workplace visit www.carboncompass.com.au.