Developing tools for sustainability management in the graphic arts industry

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: The main aim of this thesis is to develop and test industry-specific, applied work procedures and tools for environmental and emerging sustainability work in the graphic arts industry. This includes methods to quantify, follow-up, evaluate, manage, improve and communicate the environmental performance of activities in the graphic arts supply chain and printed products.In order to achieve the aims of the thesis, a selection of work areas were chosen as the basis for developing the industry-specific work procedures and tools. The selected work areas are the following: environmental management (being a part of sustainability management), environmental and sustainability strategies, environmental indicators and design for environment (DfE).The research presented in this thesis was based on survey research methods, case studies and multi-company studies. Within the framework of these methods, quantitative and qualitative techniques for data gathering were used. The companies included in the studies were selected according to their willingness, interest and motivation to participate and develop their environmental or sustainability work.The most significant results of the research presented in this thesis regarding the selected work areas are the following:• An evaluation of early certified environmental management systems (EMSs) in Sweden identified four areas as priorities in making the EMSs more efficient. Two of them, viz. improvement in the follow-up of environmental work, and the linking of EMSs to product design, were developed for the graphic arts industry. The remaining two areas were clarifying the identification process and assessment of environmental aspects, and streamlining and co-ordinating different management systems.• An established and successfully tested working method for formulating and realising corporate sustainability strategies in the graphic arts industry.• Industry-specific environmental indicator models for the graphic arts industry with defined methods for standardised inventorying and calculations. These models have been tested, used and approved of by the industry itself.• Collected and compiled data for the developed environmental indicator models. Data have been collected from quite a large number of companies (10-20 companies for each of the printing techniques covered, i.e. coldset offset, heatset offset and gravure) over a period of several years.• The use of the industry-specific environmental indicator models was developed and illustrated.• A described and recommended work procedure for DfE in graphic arts companies including industry-specific tools for applying DfE to printed products, in the form of a manual and a checklist. The checklist was designed so that it can serve as a simple tool for the environmental assessment of printed products. The tools were tested by graphic arts companies.