The world’s nations are working towards a greener future. However, the current economic situation does not help matters, with many governments cutting investment for green products such as Solar and wind farms in 2012. Achieving international and national targets for carbon footprint reduction appear to be harder than ever.
This article looks at the world’s two super powers, China and USA, and how they are approaching improved carbon footprints with particular focus on the green printing industry.
These trend-setters should give us an indication of the current state of play for green printing worldwide.
USA v China
Collectively, the USA and China account for 41.8% of the world’s CO2 emissions annually. This, coupled with the fact by 2020 China is predicted to be the world leader in the print industry means there could be a potential problem for future ‘green printing’ because China is notorious for its un-environmentally-friendly practices, and the print industry has been under increasing pressure to become more ‘green’.
What is China doing?
China does have new green policies when it comes to printing, but like with a lot of the green initiatives, it comes down to education of the public with these new practices, which is easier said than done with over 1 billion people to re-educate; not to mention many rural areas that lack investment and infrastructure. In January 2012, China held its first green printing summit, which both shows progress and that the Chinese government are listening to their critics and have begun to do something about the industry they are set to be leading by the end of the decade.
What is the US doing?
A recent international data estimate from 2010, sat the US printing industry as the largest in the world, with an output of 198 billion dollars a year, over double the next nearest country, Japan. This may be why there are a great number of green printing initiatives, awards and organisations practising green methods.
The first thing you will notice with a quick Google search is that the internet is rife with US companies advocating their green printing services. These include using recycled inks and toners, which come from a number of leading brands, such as HP and Epsom.
There has also been some in-depth research carried out in the area of green printing. In 2011 a report from research and markets found the US print industry was improving its ‘greenness’ with 43% of companies that were asked, claiming that green (sustainable) printing schemes were “critically important to only a few select customers”. That is an increase from 41% in 2008. This indicates that the uptake is slow, but at least increasing in the USA, and considering China appears to be behind the curve, a green printing future for our superpowers still seems a distant dream. And even though amazingly, only 11% of wood extracted from forests ends up used in print that still equates to a significant amount of rainforest removal.
When it comes to economic and green printing, the World’s superpowers, that lead the world in so many industries, appear to be slowly thinking more about green printing, but I ask the question, “are they acting fast enough?”
Matthew currently writes for Solopress, a British-based company offering quality printing services.
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