Ricoh awards sustainability prize

The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner


It’s surprising that there are so few sustainability prizes that award cash, but Ricoh is leading the way, especially in the USA. Cash prizes for sustainability are a brilliant tool for encouragement and for getting sustainability up the agenda, especially amongst the young. The Ricoh Sustainable Development Award (RSDA) has been awarded annually for the last fifteen years, and totals over $430,000 in scholarships for young people. As yet Ricoh makes no such investment into sustainability innovation in the graphics industry, but perhaps they might consider it for young people and for clever environmental impact mitigations in printing and publishing.

Submissions for the RSDA are evaluated on how well they align with Ricoh’s environmental policies, as well as their business practicalities and environmental sustainability. Ricoh has several principles underpinning its international sustainability efforts: energy conservation, prevention of global warming, prevention of pollution, resource conservation, recycling, and biodiversity conservation. This year’s RSDA of $10,000 goes to Michael Chen for his project A Novel Way to Alleviate the Water Crisis in Uganda. The award winner is a solar still that extracts drinkable water from plants.

Chen’s invention is simple and affordable. Elephant grass, which is widely available in Uganda, is placed in a container that subsequently heats up in the sun, so that water condenses out of it. The water can then be distilled and when extracted is safe to drink. The leftover plant material is suitable as cattle fodder or fuel, and it could probably be made into paper too. According to the project notes, one acre of elephant grass can be harvested three times per year. Processed in Chen’s solar still the elephant grass crops can provide sufficient drinking water for 122 people. This saves time and energy in water sourcing and collection, helping villagers to be more independent and able to put their energies into other activities.

This doesn’t have much to do with the graphics business, but it is an illustration of how major suppliers to our sector are helping to drive global sustainability. Ricoh is one of a handful of printing and publishing system developers to have made public commitments to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It has also pledged to cut its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 30% compared to 2015 by 2030. Scope 1 emissions are those coming directly from the company’s manufacturing plants and offices. Scope 2 emissions are those associated with purchased electricity and heat. Ricoh aims for zero Greenhouse Gas emissions across its entire value chain by 2050.

Commercial printing only contributes a small fraction of Ricoh’s revenues, however, sales volumes are rising and the company is taking the lead in driving digital print output quality. Ricoh is one of the founders of the Verdigris project and along with HP, Kodak and Canon/Océ, Ricoh is also a founder of the Digital Printing Deinking Alliance (DPDA). The DPDA works to encourage the use of digital printing and recycling and to improve print’s environmental footprint. We would love to see more sustainability prizes on this side of the pond, especially those that reward sustainable innovation and business development, and relate to printing and publishing.

This article is part of the Verdigris series of stories about understanding the environmental impact of print. The Verdigris Project is supported by Agfa Graphics, Digital Dots, drupa, EFI, Fespa, Kodak, Mondi, Pragati Offset, Ricoh, Shimizu Printing, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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