There’s no getting away from the fact that climate change is among the most pressing problems facing businesses today. The UK has a legally binding net zero by 2050 target and achieving this will require businesses to make real changes and to turn climate targets into action. Here, some of the print and IT sector’s leading vendors share their sustainability strategies and the progress they’ve made in reducing GHG emissions.
PrintIT Reseller: What are the main objectives and targets of your sustainability strategy, and what progress have you made to date in meeting your goals?
Sabine Heine-Bickle, Head of Governance and Standards, Kyocera Document Solutions UK: As signatories to the UN Global Compact, we have aligned our focus areas in the UK with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Most of these involve ongoing activity rather than a single target.
We’re supporting ‘good health and wellbeing’ for our employees through our mental and physical health wellbeing initiatives and also via paying them a living wage under our ‘decent work and economic growth’ pillar.
Spanning across several stakeholders, including our local communities, we support charity volunteering by our employees and support charities with free leaflet printing via our ‘reducing inequalities’ initiatives.
Our customers and the wider world benefit from our efforts on ‘responsible consumption and production’ where we target things like material usage in our production, minimising plastic use and the overall recyclability in our packaging. Finally, and most importantly, ‘climate action’ where we have set targets to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 in line with Science Based Targets goals and are also supporting our customers’ efforts towards this goal by offering them a carbon neutral service and product options.
James Epton, Head of Marketing, XBM: XBM Ltd is, like many UK businesses, primarily a sales and services organisation. We stand between international manufacturers and the businesses we serve. As such, our goal is not only to act sustainably as a company, but to provide our customers with products and services where sustainability has been factored in, from design, resource procurement and manufacture, right through to the operation of the devices in the field.
Increasingly, our customers are placing sustainability high in their buying criteria, along with business requirements/product functions and price. Even when it comes to price, the total cost of ownership (TCO) now makes energy usage part of the equation, with rising energy bills a major concern. Devices that have significantly lower power consumption will be cheaper to run, reducing both the electricity bill and the business’s carbon footprint.
Dom Gryszan, Director of Marketing, Apogee: Apogee is actively working to be carbon neutral by 2025 and achieve net zero by 2030 – with aims to also reduce and eliminate waste through our circular economy programme.
There has been a much broader ownership of sustainability within Apogee since 2019, and our strategy to reach net zero has several key objectives. Firstly, we aim to minimise upstream impacts through our sustainable procurement framework; and reduce downstream impacts through reforestation, close collaboration with stakeholders in our value chain, and engagement with our clients and our community.
So far since 2019, Apogee has reduced fleet fuel by 10 per cent, with 13 per cent of our company fleet replaced with electric vehicles and hybrids. We’ve also reduced buildings energy by 38 per cent, and total company-wide emissions by 7 per cent – while attaining official certifications such as FSC-COC, ISO 14001, and ISO-9001, among others.
Andy Ratcliffe, Managing Director, Key Digital: “Key Digital recently published its 2022/23 Sustainability Report and we have achieved a lot over the last couple of years, including a 98 per cent reduction in road miles!
That’s largely down to us pioneering a digital-first approach to customer service – it’s better for us, our clients and the planet.
There’s no point driving to customer meetings to talk about sustainability – preaching the message in an unsustainable way would be greenwashing. So we’ve addressed this by ensuring we can deliver our same professional level of service in an entirely virtual setting – reducing road miles, number of journeys required and wasted trips.
Charlotte Muenzel, Marketing Manager, SYNAXON: Sustainability is a critical topic within our company and we have made it our mission to become neutral in our CO2 emissions. However, simply paying compensation is not our goal. We use Ecosia as our default search engine. For every 45 searches, they plant a tree to compensate for the emissions generated. Additionally, we donated to Ecosia so that they could plant an extra 10,000 trees. Our headquarters in Germany require no air conditioning as they’ve been specially constructed to regulate their own temperatures. Furthermore, we installed solar panels on our roof to facilitate the eco-friendly charging of our electric company cars, and we’ve recently increased the number of charging stations at our HQ. We also actively avoid colour printing wherever possible.
Gillian Anderson, Environment, Social & Governance Partner, Konica Minolta: With Eco Vision 2050, Konica Minolta has outlined our sustainability objectives, alongside concrete goals and measures. The prevention and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is one of the top priorities.
Tough targets demand decisive action and Konica Minolta has already initiated a number of measures to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions including CO2. Nevertheless, we know that this is just the beginning. For example, we are a member of RE100, a global initiative that brings together the world’s most influential businesses in a commitment to obtain 100 per cent of the electricity we consume from renewable energy sources globally. Konica Minolta in the UK has already achieved the goal of sourcing 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources.
Within the UK, through our carbon reduction plan we are committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and are working to continually seek ways to further reduce our impact as well as support our customers to reduce their own emissions through programmes such as enabling climate compensation.
Steve Kendall-Smith, UK Managing At Lexmark, we have Director, Lexmark: a commitment to create a more efficient and more sustainable world. For us, our sustainability strategy is focused on not only meeting our internal targets but also empowering our customers to meet their sustainability targets.
Since 2005, Lexmark has lowered emissions by 62 per cent globally, and is on track to meet a 40 per cent reduction target from 2015 levels by 2025. We have achieved these reductions to date by implementing energy efficiency projects, energy infrastructure improvements and energy conservation efforts at our global sites. Our goal at Lexmark has been to reduce energy consumption by 20 per cent from 2015 to 2025. To date, we are currently ahead of our targets, having lowered energy consumption by 26 per cent.
Lexmark’s Cartridge Collection Program (LCCP) has prevented 100 million cartridges processed in 30 years of operation (established in 1991) from ending up in landfill. Of Lexmark’s fleet of devices, 92 per cent of models contain PCR content, with over 80 per cent of those containing over 30 per cent PCR content.
We have a long time focus on sustainability associated with our products. Actions such as lowering energy and new plastics use, re-use of products, global recycling efforts, and engineering durable products that are built to last are very high focus areas for us. For example, durability is a key component of our sustainability efforts. Essentially, ensuring that our devices are built to last and don’t need to be replaced or recycled before their time. Lexmark devices are built to last for an above industry average of over seven years.
When devices do reach their end of-life, we aim to re-use as much old material as possible. 39 per cent of plastic in new Lexmark devices and 37 per cent in new branded cartridges has been reclaimed, and the company plans to grow these numbers. We have a goal of 50 per cent average recycled content plastic in devices by 2025.
In September 2022, we announced printers that are CarbonNeutral product certified by Climate Impact Partners, which enable small and medium-sized businesses to print more simply and sustainably. Carbon neutrality for these products began with Lexmark engineers working to measure and minimise the greenhouse gas emissions in the full lifecycle of the product’s production, transportation, use and retirement and carbon offsets were purchased to offset the remaining emissions balance.
PrintIT Reseller: How are you engaging your employees in your sustainability efforts?
Sabine Heine-Bickle: We do regular communication on our sustainability strategy and actions to employees and ask them to get involved. Very little of our actions can be achieved without the participation of employees whether it’s trying to reduce car journeys, taking advantage of our mental health and wellbeing support programme, or engaging with local charities by volunteering. We’ve also included information on our sustainability strategy into our customer communications, which in turn helps our employees see the impact it’s having on customer engagement and means they understand how it comes to life.
James Epton: From journey planning for our sales and service teams, to using digital brochures and forms instead of using boxes and boxes of pre-printed media, sustainability is front and centre with our employees. We also work closely with manufacturers who prioritise sustainability and they provide training on the sustainability of their products and supply chains.
But it’s not just about our carbon footprint. XBM believes that corporate sustainability starts with a company’s value system and a principles-based approach to doing business. This means operating in ways that meet our fundamental responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption.
As a rapidly growing business it would be easy to miss the importance of how the business treats its people. Sustainability is also about how make work engaging and fulfilling and listening to the needs of the people who are not ‘just’ employees, they are colleagues, key parts of our success, and our work family. Investing in them, providing development opportunities, and listening to their ideas provides an engaged workforce who feel valued and are willing to give their best for a business that respects them. This works in both directions, both for the business and for the individual.
As someone who only joined the business seven months ago, this has been evident in the way I was integrated into XBM and my interactions with staff in all departments and across the country. From regular meeting with the directors and continual encouragement, I have found a place where I fit.
Dom Gryszan: With such a short turnaround for our net zero goals, having all hands on deck is essential. We regularly deliver internal communications on national and global sustainability awareness programmes, such as Earth Hour and World Environment Day; and in 2022, we introduced an e-learning module on environmental sustainability, available to all employees. In addition, our switch off campaign encourages employees to keep equipment inactive over weekends and during national holidays.
But there’s a general eagerness to participate throughout our company. Since 2021, Apogee has engaged with various community engagement programmes – most notably, the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean – and in 2022, our people removed more than 227kg of ocean-bound plastics and debris from three major UK beaches.
Also in 2021, Apogee internally launched the War on Waste programme with assistance from facilities management company, MITIE. This initiative promoted segregation of waste and encouraged correct recycling and reusing practices, in order to ensure that zero per cent of our waste is sent to landfills – and you can’t argue with the results. In 2022, we recycled 87 per cent of office waste generated (with 13 per cent being reformed), reused 214 tonnes of end-of-life hardware and parts, and maintained our two-year trend of sending zero waste to landfills.
Andy Ratcliffe: We believe in reducing our carbon output, rather than simply offsetting it. Our main goal is to be carbon negative, making a positive impact on this planet.
Our employees can hold all customer meetings in an entirely virtual setting, while our service team complete 87 per cent of tickets remotely. Not only that, where a physical call-out is needed, our high first-time fix rate, Smart Route Design system and order fulfilment planning cuts our CO2e output by an estimated 15.5 tonnes each year.
We estimate a further 33 tonnes of CO2e per year are saved from our sales teams working digitally.
Charlotte Muenzel: Constantly printing documents that aren’t really needed? Lights are permanently on, even after everyone’s gone home? Radiator on full blast with the window open? Several years ago, we decided as a company that our working habits needed to change and made supporting sustainability as well as minimising our environmental footprint part of our fundamental principles. They apply to us all, be it partners, manufacturers or employees. We’ve even made them a measurable part of our yearly employee reviews.
To reduce emissions from staff travelling, we closed our UK office in 2021 and all our UK staff work remotely. Wherever possible, we use public transport to travel to events, in the UK and Germany. Remote work is popular within the IT industry in Germany, and those living close to the office are free to decide whether they work from home or the office. Additionally, SYNAXON offers tax relief on bike leasing for all its German employees.
Gillian Anderson: The world is united as never before to take on the challenge of climate change, with governments, businesses and individuals all playing their part. Mitigating climate change is one of the main goals in Konica Minolta’s ESG strategy and is therefore firmly anchored in our group charter of corporate behaviour, specifically through addressing environmental issues.
Engaging our employees through various initiatives and programmes is essential to us delivering our long- term vision.
This year our technology innovation programme invited employees to collaborate cross functionally on a European and global level to innovate on set challenges including ESG topics. As part of the six-month programme, employees both in the UK and globally were given the opportunity to explore the topics in depth and provide innovative solutions.
In the UK, our recently established social impact working group is helping to embed and realise our social impact commitments and develop our partnerships across the UK. This commitment to people, places, and the environment is ingrained in Konica Minolta as a global business, but it is also vitally important at even the most local of levels. This is just the start, but through engaging our employees, we are able to further understand the most challenging issues and opportunities in the communities where our employees and customers are and collaborate with others to make the biggest impact.
Steve Kendall-Smith: Lexmark employees are engaged in aspects of our operational sustainability. There is a great deal of excitement around our carbon neutrality goals. Some of our sites have award programs where employees can offer environmental improvement suggestions and earn awards or points toward incentives.
Volunteerism, charitable giving, education and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion are part of the Lexmark culture. This genuine sense of connection makes us stronger as a business and empowers employees, while supporting the areas in which we live.
We engage with our employees to give their time, talent and resources through programs such as volunteer time off and flexible work policies. Lexmark’s annual presentation of the volunteer of the year award to an employee who demonstrates excellence in volunteerism helps support the causes that are most important to the winning employee.
From tree and mangrove plantings to rubbish collection and clean-up efforts, over the years, Lexmark employees have used these initiatives and programs to invest time to help the environment in their local communities, as well as raise awareness for environmental stewardship.
Our commitment to local and global communities is visible in the contributions of financial, product, and volunteer support to organisations working to help meet the challenges and needs of modern society. We apply the same standards of excellence to our contribution and community support activities that we use in our business operations.
PrintIT Reseller: Have you partnered with any groups/ organisations to support your key sustainability initiatives?
Sabine Heine-Bickle: Our partnerships are targeted at areas where both expertise and credibility are key to avoid any greenwashing claims. We’ve partnered with myClimate to validate our carbon impact calculations and support our carbon offset programme for our UK operation and the products we sell to customers.
We are also members of the Living Wage Foundation who certify that we pay a living wage to all staff and have joined the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) to certify working conditions in our factories in Asia. Finally, via our direct business, Annodata, we sponsor the GLL foundation who support promising athletes to allow them to focus on their sport.
James Epton: We work with a wide range of suppliers and other organisations that prioritise sustainability, but perhaps the two key relationships are with Epson and Ecologi.
Epson has invested heavily in developing game-changing heat-free print technology. ‘Game-changing’ is used, all too often, inappropriately, but in this instance, it is an accurate assessment. From procurement to operation, Epson’s credentials are validated by receiving the EcoVadis Platinum award for sustainability for the last three years in a row.
Epson’s heat-free print technology dramatically reduces consumables waste. Epson RIPS ink cartridges provide a higher yield, resulting in less than half the ink related consumable replacement volumes over a contract term in comparison to laser technology. Epson’s business inkjet printers provide a vastly simplified mechanical system, not requiring heat fusers, or as many other replacement components, significantly reducing the overall number of replacement parts, packaging, and storage. This also reduces the number of delivery journeys for parts and ink, as well as the number of service appointments needed to maintain the devices, reducing the required transport related carbon.
Lower energy consumption saves money too. A desktop laser device consumes over a kilowatt (1,000 watts) when heating the fuser before starting to print, whereas an Epson device will use less than 30 watts. As Epson’s heat free devices do not require a warm-up routine before they start printing, when assessed alongside a comparable laser device, they use up to 83 per cent less energy and lower CO2 emissions, produce up to 96 per cent less consumable waste, start printing sooner and provide increased productivity.
In 2022, XBM partnered with Ecologi, who use climate solutions which already exist to avoid or remove billions of tonnes of emissions, as well as restoring nature and positively transforming society. Ecologi was initially founded by a group of environmentalists in Bristol who were frustrated that many of us feel we are not able to contribute enough to the colossal climate problem and created a way for individuals and businesses to make a real difference by working together.
XBM now plants 165 trees, through Ecologi, for each Epson solution we install. To date that is over 8,500 trees, but the list of projects supported by Ecologi spreads across the globe, with funding for reforestation, forest protection, renewable energy programs and social projects. These include distributing cleaner cookstoves in Kenya, avoiding methane emissions from landfill in Brazil, generating renewable solar electricity in Egypt, as well as reforestation in Argentina, Kenya, Ecuador, and many other locations.
Dom Gryszan: Apogee works closely with our parent company, HP Inc., to completely eliminate single-use packaging from our supply chain – and we were awarded the HP Partner Platinum Sustainability Award in 2022, in recognition of (among other philanthropic endeavours) our contribution toward a circular and low carbon economy. This included decreasing our total emissions generated through combustible gas by 100 per cent, decreasing our number of business vehicles by 38 per cent, and increasing the recycling of office waste by 115 per cent.
As well as being certified with IS0 14001 for our approach to environmental management; Apogee is partnered with PrintReleaf – a program available to all managed print clients, which reforests trees around the world equivalent to the amount of pages they print. At the time of writing, Apogee clients have reforested 6,194 trees against 51.6 million pages through PrintReleaf.
Lastly, Apogee is also a member of Avetta Consortium, a supply chain risk management service provider. Membership is awarded to suppliers who have achieved specific business management standards for health & safety, sustainability, and environmental and social responsibility.
Andy Ratcliffe: We’re working very closely with manufacturers and distributors as they have a role to play across the industry. We’ve been addressing the issue of waste packaging and excess travel miles by encouraging recycling and recycled material use where possible and reducing product to end-user journey miles.
We continue to look forward at developments that can be made and further improvements where we can make a positive difference, no matter what size.
Charlotte Muenzel: Our team is spread across the country; we choose public transport for travel and eco-friendly locations for our regular team meetings. We’ve partnered with a venue in Wolverhampton for our company events that does a great job when it comes to sustainability. They recognise the risks posed to the planet from climate change and the consequences of this change, which is why they operate their “Meetings for Change” promise. 80% of the ingredients on their menus are British-grown and all the chicken and milk served is Red Tractor-assured. All tea and coffee served come from responsible suppliers, their chocolate is fair trade, and they offer a choice of great-tasting plant-based dishes. Wherever possible, the venue uses recyclable packaging to reduce waste.
Gillian Anderson: At Konica Minolta we are keen to play our part in shaping a better future for all, sharing our experiences and learnings along the way. We know to reach our targets and realise our Eco Vision 2050 and reduce our impact, we must work in partnership with customers, employees and suppliers.
For climate action, our main objective is to prevent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our operations and products. Our enabling climate compensation programme is our most important customer programme for offsetting any remaining emissions. To deliver this programme, we partner with international climate change expert ClimatePartner to ensure transparency and resilience.
Steve Kendall-Smith: We have partnered with a number or organisations to support our sustainability efforts and initiatives. One of which is PrintReleaf, which enables Lexmark customers to track their paper usage and provide a biomass offset through reforestation. The automatic process measures paper consumption and calculates the equivalent number of trees needed to offset the environmental impact. The tree planting is audited by a leading global forestry auditor and a certification is provided. Lexmark takes part in this program for our own office printing as well as our test pages in our quality process, in addition to the customer offering.
We are also taking part in combating deforestation and offsetting CO2 emissions through our partnership with the UK charity Ripple Africa, one of the largest and most successful tree planting projects in Malawi. Ripple Africa provides a long-term solution to combat deforestation in Africa as well as carrying out large-scale environmental projects and small-scale initiatives in the fields of education and health.
To fully understand the impact of our efforts, we seek out third party validation from sustainability organisations. To ensure our devices are meet high standards of energy efficiency, 96 per cent of our devices meet the ENERGY STAR certification.
The recent launch of our single function black and white B3442dw devices and multifunction colour MC3326i devices are certified as CarbonNeutral by Climate Impact Partners.