The importance of and interest in Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in the graphics industry is probably nil. At least at the moment. But at some stage graphics professionals, either in the development community or as publishers and content producers, will need to understand their worth. It’s a tad melodramatic to say that the future of the industry may depend on them, but that could indeed prove to be the case.
Printing and publishing companies produce media communications. They print books, magazines, newspapers, catalogues, signs and displays and all manner of transactional prints. These are the visible forms of print, but there is plenty of the stuff that can easily be overlooked. This is the print that’s borderline invisible, because it’s taken for granted. It includes such things as packaging and labels, directions and instructions for use, safety sheets, guarantee information and all that other stuff that just gets forgotten. All of this unseen print obviously has an environmental impact. It also contributes to the environmental impact of a product, such as a new smartphone or a car, even though the print tends to be ignored in product environmental declarations.
Great news for one of the graphics industry’s best supporters of environmental sustainability. Kodak has entered into a partnership with Wenn Digital to build and launch an image rights management platform for photographers. Wenn is a blockchain developer and the platform Wenn has developed is called KodakOne. The associated cryptocurrency is KodakCoin, a delightful echo of Kodachrome for the digital age. The launch of KodakOne and KodakCoin confirm Kodak as the industry’s leading photographic company.
It’s hard enough getting to grips with carbon footprinting, but that is only a small part of the environmental impact calculation. In 2018, regulators and shareholders in mature markets are sharpening their focus on the life-cycle environmental impacts of products. This will impact all parts of the graphics supply chain, from design to procurement. At least it will in markets where political leaders take seriously their environmental responsibilities, such as China and the European Union.
What should the graphics industry expect for 2018? This is easy to answer: more of the same. It would be great to hint at exciting new technologies waiting just around the corner. Or to share with you some amazing new business models for print and publishing. But in fact the graphics industry is awash with new technologies and examples of how to apply them. The problem is that there is still so much reluctance to get with the programme and to fully embrace digital processes and ideas.