Big Picture - April 2018 - 29
be the CHANGE
In 2007, Heather Griffin, marketing director of Duggal Visual
Solutions (duggal.com), sat down with the company's owner to
share ideas about doing things in a more eco-friendly way.
At that time, Griffi n says they recognized that there were lots
of things that could be done but that people in the printing
what is SGP?
The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) is a nonproﬁt, independent
organization that certiﬁes printing facilities' sustainable practices. The typically
13-month-long certiﬁcation process involves a third-party audit to determine
compliance with federal, state, and local environmental, health, and safety
regulations. Companies going through certiﬁcation must also form a sustainability committee, implement formal sustainability policies and procedures, and
comply with SGP best practices, including inventory management, waste
reduction, and pollution prevention. Tracking is another important component
of the program to determine carbon footprint.
Within the process, SGP assists those going through certiﬁcation with
identifying operational advancements and waste reduction.
To maintain certiﬁcation once it's established, each company must undergo
an audit every two years to ensure their compliance and to possibly identify
areas for further improvement.
Learn more about SGP certiﬁcation at sgppartnership.org.
industry weren't doing them, either because they were afraid it
would ding their bottom line or they didn't think clients would
be interested. Instead of dragging their feet, Duggal - which
offers printing, digital imaging, multimedia, wide-format
graphics, and graphic display services - committed to changing
their practices to become a more sustainable company.
Duggal found a recycling firm with whom to partner and
they have consistently recycled 80 to 90 percent of the waste
in all six Duggal facilities in the last decade. They also
partnered with manufacturers to launch green products that
were high quality and didn't cost twice as much, as was the
case early on. Those substrates are now the go-to for Duggal,
In 2008, Duggal installed a dozen Ultraflex Bioflex
biodegradable vinyl billboards across New York. "It was a
revolutionary thing for the printing industry at the time,"
Griffi n says. "Our message was 'be the change you want to
see in the world' and our late founder, Baldev Duggal, was
really passionate about that."
The company also added LED lighting in their facilities
to save energy. Some customers were specifically asking
what sustainable certifications Duggal carried, which made
the decision to invest in certifications a little easier, Griffi n
says. After obtaining FSC certification, pursuing SGP was a
natural next step. Employees were looped into the conversation to engage and educate on ways they could all participate in making an impact by reusing or recycling packaging
and other materials.
As time passed, more and more customers were seeking
to brand themselves as green, especially Duggal's clients in
the fi ne art and retail industries. In some cases, going the
eco route saves money for customers. For example, an LED
lightbox for a retail store is shipped once (it can be reused)
and lightweight rolled or folded graphics, such as textiles,
"We've been trying to get the billboard/out-of-home market
more into using polyethylene recyclable products. It's more of a
larger industry changeover that needs to happen," says Gary
Semon, Sandy Alexander's wide-format plant manager.
Semon says there's been movement from PVC - which
ends up in a landfi ll forever - to polyethylene in the 30-foot
sizes. But larger billboards haven't really made that switch, in
part, he says, because the product offered isn't structurally
stable enough to handle the elements. Much of the retail and
P-O-P graphics segment has moved to greener products
instead of PVC.
As part of their SGP certification, Sandy Alexander
ditched their old photographic process - and the chemical
waste it produced - for HP latex digital printers.
"That was a push because the quality of inkjet printing has
improved so dramatically and the equipment allows the use of
different substrates," Andrews says of the changeover for
photo-quality and backlit prints.
Besides changing equipment, inks, and substrates, the
company also reduces as much waste as possible from the
packaging and shipping process. Sandy Alexander bought a
box-making machine, which allows them to avoid the expense
of pre-ordering boxes. It also enables boxes to be customized to
the size of the item to be shipped, which results in less waste
- and products that are more securely packaged. All Styrofoam
and premade bubble wrap have been eliminated and items are
instead packed with a sealed air product made on demand.
Packing materials or tubes and boxes that are delivered to the
plant are reused as packing materials for outgoing packages.
The box-making machine is something relatively simple
- and likely a cost savings - that smaller PSPs could consider,
Andrews suggests. It's inexpensive, reduces the need to
purchase premade boxes, and makes shipping more customizable with less waste and cost.
The company even encourages their employees to
compost instead of throwing away their leftover lunches. The
compost is later used to fertilize the flower beds surrounding
the facilities. Additional efforts include bike racks, spots to
plug in employees' electric cars, conversion to LED lighting,
and automatic temperature adjustments so empty rooms
aren't heated unnecessarily.
Everything that could possibly be recycled at Sandy
Alexander's six facilities in New Jersey, New York, and Florida
is recycled. That can be expensive. Although recycling and
reusing items can save on the purchase of raw materials, there's
still a greater cost versus savings associated with recycling
when it comes to wide format, says Van Dokkenburg.
Andrews admits while there are some savings, the
company's extensive sustainability efforts likely don't cut
costs overall. But it's a commitment Sandy Alexander feels is