Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Canopy Releases Updated Blueline Ranking for Sustainable Printing

Working with sustainable print partners and using environmental papers is becoming increasingly important for brands working to meet their own sustainability targets. Environmental nonprofit Canopy has released the 2017 update to its Blueline Ranking — a tool profiling the sustainability performance of North America’s largest printers. Printers analyzed in this year’s assessment represent $34 billion in annual sales.

Now in its second year, the Ranking rates major printers on a set of 32 key sustainability criteria and highlights sector leaders to consumer brands. The report serves as a valuable tool in helping businesses discern if their printers align with their own sustainability goals, policies and practice.

Those that top the ranking are outperforming their peers in areas such as reducing the use of papers that contain ancient and endangered forest fiber, helping advance conservation solutions, supporting the development of new environmental papers such as those made with high recycled content or straw and bringing a high degree of transparency to their sustainability initiatives.

“As businesses across North America step up to address climate change, it is time to think about the high carbon footprint of printing, which is mainly attributable to paper choices,” said Nicole Rycroft, Executive Director of Canopy. “Many papers are sourced from the logging of high carbon forests which carries a much bigger climate footprint than processing or transportation within the print sector. We’re encouraged to see strong leadership by many important players in the print sector.”

The path to drawing down emissions

Learn more about how we can feasibly achieve 'Drawdown' for a climate-safe future from Lynne Twist, Senior Advisor for Project Drawdown, at SB'20 Long Beach.

According to this year’s update, 45 percent (22/44) of the printers ranked understand the value of communicating sustainability successes to their clients and have considerable sustainability content on their websites. EarthColor and The Printing House topped the ranking thanks to strong policies, rigorous policy implementation and transparent reporting on progress and successes. Taylor Communications also stood out, having improved its ranking the most, moving from 18th to 3rd place with strong policy updates and implementation engagement.

“As one of the largest providers of marketing communications in North America, it’s important that our customers — both current and future – recognize our commitment to achieving a sustainable supply chain with a reduced carbon footprint,” said Mark O’Leary, President of Taylor Communications. “We are thrilled to move to third place in the 2017 Blueline Ranking.”

The report also revealed that 41 percent (18/44) printers have policies that support ancient and endangered forest conservation. Since the release of the first Blueprint Report in 2015, five of North America’s largest printers have developed ambitious new policies, reflecting clients’ increasing requirements for sustainable printing services.

The type of papers being printed on has a direct effect on the environmental footprint of printing and prioritizing the use of eco-papers can help position businesses to achieve their sustainability objectives and reduce their environmental impacts. A growing body of research indicates that 48 – 79 percent of the carbon footprint of books and catalogues are attributed to the papers used and 61 percent of papers’ environmental footprint is due to the loss of carbon-rich biomass in forests that are logged to secure the raw fiber of most convention papers. Canopy, with support from the Environmental Paper Network, has compiled an Ecopaper Database that printers and companies can use to source products that align with their sustainability goals and strategies. The Database features 450 printing and writing grade papers, office stationery products and packaging with high recycled, agricultural residue, alternative or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) fiber content.

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