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Industry Roundtable Day 13: Making Room for Sustainable Products and Practices?

14 days of critical information to prepare your shop for the year ahead.




Which technologies are on the upswing – and which are on the downswing? What markets and applications look to be hot next year? How much of a role will sustainability play in your company? Which profit centers should you invest in?

Get answers to these questions and many more, from six of the wide-format marketplace’s most informed analysts and consultants. Over the next couple of weeks, The Big Picture will post critical questions with invaluable answers from our panel – all designed to help you ensure that your company charts its best course for a prosperous year ahead.

Each day leading up to the SGIA Expo in Orlando, we’ll feature a round of questions and answers from our panel participants. For this year’s edition of our annual Industry Roundtable, our participants include:

• Lori Anderson, president and CEO, International Sign Association (ISA,;

• Marco Boer, vice president, I.T. Strategies (;

• Tim Greene, director, wide format consulting service, InfoTrends (;

• Dan Marx, vice president, markets & technologies, Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA,;


• Peter Mayhew, director, LightWords Ltd. (; and

• John Zarwan, managing partner, J Zarwan Partners (

Q: Sustainability and “green” printing appear to be back on everyone’s to-do list – clients as well as print providers. Should print shops be making more room on their production floor and in their storeroom for green solutions?

Lori Anderson: The natural evolution of this may have gotten delayed slightly by the economy. As the economy comes back, however, I believe this will continue to grow. Print shops absolutely should make more room for green solutions if their customers are demanding it – and they should anticipate that more customers will do so. Many who work with government entities find that it’s required already. As the solutions improve and the costs come down, it will become even more important.

Marco Boer: I think many of us have become cynical about the green message. We want green products because they give off fewer odors, use less energy, weigh less, and are more easily recyclable. Ultimately, green will become the norm because it saves money and is the right thing to do. You can’t build a new commercial building these days without it being green, and green signage is part of that. But selling print at a premium – and at a higher production cost – because it’s “green” is mostly a non-starter for print providers trying to make a living.

Tim Greene:  I’m not sure I really see “green” printing stepping into the forefront across the whole market. We see that large shops are seeing the highest levels of demand for the service, probably because they’re dealing with large brands and large retailers that are most highly sensitive to the issue. But smaller shops report low levels of interest in sustainable printing among their customers, and I think this is largely due to the historical premium that sustainable printing required. That said, larger customers set the tone, so I think most shops want to have some story around sustainability to satisfy customers. 


Dan Marx: As the economy strengthens, we’re seeing increased interest in sustainability. While I think print providers should offer “green” options, I think the real change in our industry is bigger (and more profound) than that: changes toward environmentally favorable ink systems such as UV and latex; more energy-efficient equipment, like those systems using LED-UV instead of traditional lamps; and a growing move toward non-PVC media. As these new solutions take hold – and they will – the old, less-favorable solutions will go by the wayside.

John Zarwan: Not sure about “more room,” but green solutions will continue to be important

Peter Mayhew: If your client base consists of businesses with an environmental policy or a sustainability agenda, then this will be old news. You’ll have already been asked to demonstrate that your product and services are “green” from cradle-to-grave. However, micro and small-business clients still do not have the budgets to support such ideals. So, yes, make space for environmentally responsible media, as your market demand dictates.

Did you miss Day 12 of our Industry Roundtable? Click here for our experts' take on the primary profit centers in 2014.







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