Soar Printing opened for business in 1920 and since the roaring 20s the Auckland-based company has been at the forefront of technological innovation and has also been an industry pioneer in sustainable, earth-friendly techniques.
Managing director Fred Soar says that while some may pay lip service to the subject of sustainability, his company lives and breathes it with a well thought out and articulated environmental policy that guides all aspects of its operation.
“Being a third generation family business makes the sustainability story more plausible for us to embrace. In a business sense we want to continue to be sustainable so this motivation flows easily into now being planet protectors rather than plunderers.”
The company’s first stop on the sustainability journey was to commit to Landcare Research’s Enviro-Mark scheme. Out of their five environmental award standards, Soar has achieved the highest Diamond level. Becoming ISO 14001 compliant, joining the Forest Stewardship Council and gaining certification under the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification were the natural next steps. The company’s most recent accomplishment has been attaining carboNZeroCertTM certification, which they achieved this year. Soar is now focused on producing truly carbon neutral printed products.
Walking the sustainability talk has required a certain level of courage—particularly working in an industry that’s more accustomed to tree felling. Being a trained accountant who had worked for a number of multinationals, Fred Soar quickly saw both the tangible and intangible benefits of following a triple bottom line policy.
“One of the by-products of seeking carbon zero status is that you look closely at all your processes. Through improvement and compliance, we’re now saving more than $150,000 a year, mostly through waste management and energy savings. We’ve reduced our landfill waste from 90 percent to 10 percent and have achieved rubbish savings of up to $1000 a week. The most exciting part is that we now get money back for our recycled rubbish.”
Technology has also played a commanding role in the company’s sustainability efforts, allowing it to minimise the waste associated with conventional printing techniques.
“With our change in orientation, we now look at the lifecycle of printing technology: for example, how the technology was made, its power consumption and any harmful chemicals it will use, along with taking into account what will happen at the end of its life.
“In fact, we’ve just purchased the most advanced printing technology—the Heidelberg Anicolor press. We can save customers up to 390 sheets of paper waste to make ready each job. As well as being good for the environment, this advanced offset press is saving our customers a fortune. Moreover, the Anicolor uses considerably less paper, ink, power and consumables.”
Wherever possible the company tries to source raw materials that are less damaging to the environment. Sustainable natural resources are always the first port of call but when non-renewable natural resources are the only option, the company endeavours to use them as efficiently as possible. Fred Soar admits that all of these sustainable measures are also strong selling point for clients, who benefit from knowing they can both save money and do the environment a favour.
But sustainabilty isn’t just about taking care of the environment. The company’s sustainability journey has also led it to become more aware of environmental health and safety risks to its employees.
And as for the rocket log that carry’s the company’s name, Fred Soar insists it only uses bio-fuel for propulsion.
Five ways to identify a planet-friendly printer
Think Ink: It may not roll easily off the tongue, but there is a rating system for inks known as Bio-derived Renewable Content or BRC. If this draws a blank, move on to the next printer.
Paper: If suitable to your needs, choose a paper with maximum Post-Consumer Waste—and also consider the manufacturing process used in producing the paper.
Right Size It: Before committing something to design, choose the most efficient dimensions and check with your printer on gripper margins, grain directions, bleed, ganged-up print runs and even custom sheet sizing.
Worn With Pride: Look for bona fide credentials demonstrating earth friendly techniques and processes.
Hard questions: For clients who really want to get low down and dirty with their printers, ask questions such as:
● How do you recycle press waste and other waste?
● Do you use renewable energy or offset your energy use?
● How do you limit the amount of ink waste?
● How do you limit the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the press room?
● What kinds of benefit programs and safety training do your employees receive?
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