Although some of the presentations were product presentations the first session itself took up the issue of sustainability – that it is no longer enough to be environment friendly but that there has to be an approach that looks at the product and the processes from cradle to regeneration including the water, transport, and energy costs of both materials and end products. This has to be measurable in the form of a bottom line scorecard – the carbon footprint.
In this session R Srinivasan pointed out that ITC PSPD’s mills with their social forestry and biotechnology activity including the cloning and distribution of plants are in the business of regeneration of raw material that also earns them carbon credits. They are intensely aware of their of their carbon footprint and the need to be carbon neutral. Harsh Pati Singhania of JK Paper said that the issue for paper makers is of access to raw materials and forests since it affects the scale of operations that are needed to make processes productive and energy saving.
As a representative of the paper industry he spoke of the high capital costs and the low return on investment in an industry where the national forest policy is less than encouraging in enabling either large-scale social or industrial forestry. This may not have been the forum to sort out one of the most issues that confronts the paper, publishing, and printing industry – the sustainability of paper manufactured in India.
There were comments from manufacturers in the audience using alternative raw material – bagasse (sugarcane husk or residue) – but it is well known that even this type of fibre input is primarily used in our country as fuel to generate energy.
The other input providers Heidelberg and HP spoke on the one hand of the refinement of offset printing and on the other of using digital printing to print only as much as is needed at a given time. Both of these are technology solutions and real parts of the solution that printers and even publishers are contemplating every day but from the publisher’s point of view there is a great concern about the cost of printing.
Sanat Hazra the newspaper printer returned from America made a presentation that showed how environmental protocols are practised in the west and also that they can be implemented in our country by looking at the materials, processes and end products including recyclable and hazardous wastes. As pointed out by JK Dadoo of the Delhi Administration these practices are far away from what is happening in the industrial units of Delhi. The capital cost of effluent treatment plants is not as daunting as the cost of using and maintaining them. He pointed out that in the 34 industrial estates of the city there are only 11 common effluent plants.
We look forward to this effort by TERI and the Delhi Administration developing into understanding, activities, action plans and then seminars to discuss both the successes and failures. The idea of a green publishers guild put forward by the TERI Press is a good idea and as another participant commented we also look forward to seeing its aims and objectives outlined. As far as the printers of Delhi this is another chance to get serious. They just need to learn about and frame an environmental audit protocol. They need to start by studying their business and their processes — to measure and document them. This will lead to solutions that can be followed voluntarily and demonstrably, although one cannot imagine them acting without government threats. Gone are the days that they can continue in their illiterate ways.