The PPA brought together publishing's sustainabililty pioneers to discuss the vital issues around how businesses can best succeed in a carbon-constrained world.
Government, publishers, printers, paper companies and distributors gathered at the Blue Fin building in London on November 2 for PPA’s annual Environment Forum, which was chaired by Jasper Scott, the PPA’s Environment Committee Chairman and IPC Media’s Manufacturing Director.
Joan Walley, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent and Chairman of the Environmental Audit Select Committee, opened the event with a keynote address on the importance of environmental policy.
Walley said environmental concerns should not be overshadowed by an ongoing fixation with economic growth, and used her speech to call on Government to be clearer on what sustainable development actually meant for industry.
She also called on the PPA and publishing businesses to continue to show leadership in the sector in order to help meet climate change targets.
“Being green is good for competitiveness and the long term viability of businesses,” said Walley.
“There is a need to put measures into place now because if we don’t attempt to meet the 80 per cent cuts in carbon emissions by 2050 our grandchildren are going to be paying the price.”
There is a need to put measures into place now because if we don’t attempt to meet the 80 per cent cuts in carbon emissions by 2050 our grandchildren are going to be paying the price
Joan Walley, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent and Chairman of the Environmental Audit Select Committee
Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business at Marks & Spencer, explained how the retail giant had made cost savings of over £70m since it moved to become a wholly sustainable business.
M&S aims to reach that milestone by 2020 and Barry said a combination of customer expectation and the growing influence of social media would help drive the business towards that goal.
“Customers expect companies to be driving this agenda forward; that’s why they shop with you,” said Barry.
“M&S is predicting a very different decade ahead for business due to social media, not just in the way consumers engage with us but also how they buy. Social media in five years will have total access and visibility to everything that we do, the supply chain will become transparent.”
Barry also called for stronger environmental legislation now and in the future that would be deployed long-term over decades.
“Consumers are concerned by and interested in the environment but globally Government is not giving the lead we would like, so business has had to step into that vacuum.”
He added: “We all need to push further in this space and if you do, you will save money today and you’ll save in the years to come.”
Adrian Gault, Chief Economist for the Committee on Climate Change, spoke on the requirements needed for the UK to meet its energy targets by 2030 and the low carbon policies required to meet them.
He also touched upon the cost implications the targets have for publishers and how they would affect the supply chain and the industry’s future operating costs.
“The current rate of progress is not sufficient to meet established targets as we are no way near being on track to meet carbon budgets, there’s a need for a step change,” warned Gault.
“Making savings now is the most cost effective route to meeting the longer term Government commitments.”
Michael Sturges, Senior Consultant for Innventia Edge, & Carbon Footprint Consultant to the PPA, addressed the question: is e-media greener than print?
He presented key findings from the PPA’s carbon footprint research into online vs offline media and looked at the different ways content generation contributes to carbon production.
Sturges argued that it was inaccurate to use one for one comparison between e-content and physical magazines as the two were complementary and consumers used them together.
“It’s incorrect to ask which is greener, online or traditional media, because what the research suggests is that user behaviour and interaction with the content is more important than the delivery channel,” said Sturges.
“Carbon implications of digital content are poorly understood and publishers need to demonstrate leadership to challenge this.”
David Halford, Head of Ethical Sourcing, BBC Worldwide, spoke on the innovative ways improving working conditions in the supply chain brought business benefits at both ends of the chain.
He gave examples of how improving working conditions through more stringent business agreements had helped in both China and India.
The forum concluded with a panel session including a cross-section of some of the best-known business names in publishing.
It tackled the critical steps required for companies to commit to sustainability and guarantee a low carbon future.
The panel included Klaus Barduna, Vice President of Sustainability for Stora Enso; Gary Marshall, Polestar’s Group Risk Manager; Kitty Corrigan, Deputy Editor/Eco Editor, Country Living Magazine, Hearst Magazines UK; and David Morton, Strategic Development Director, Menzies Distribution.
The PPA would like to thank IPC Media and Stora Enso for sponsoring the event and making the Environment Forum possible.
To request presentations from the Environment Forum please email Rose Benjamin, the PPA’s Head of Environment.