Meet Gareth Dinnage, the man at the helm of Seacourt, an Oxford-based printer that has spent the last 20 years slowly turning the entire dirty business of commercial printing on its head. We’ve all got print jobs we need doing – whether its for corporate reports, or marketing literature. But imagine if your printing activity had a positive impact on the planet rather than a negative one. Gareth gives the hows, whys and wherefores.
More often than not we like to bring you stories of young, fresh, raw businesses that are based on an idea, a concept, a realisation that there is a better way.
But we also like to bring you stories of companies that are on something of a journey, to turn their businesses around. And I think there is as much to learn from both sorts of business; and I get as much pleasure talking, writing and storytelling about both types of organisation.
And we have a bit of a gem for you on this week’s show. It falls into the latter camp. It is a business that has been around for 70 years, and it has managed to do what so many companies are trying to do right now: To change.
A notoriously dirty, toxic and wasteful industry, the commercial printing sector – the UK’s fifth largest manufacturing industry which operates in virtually all aspects of the national economy – has had to grapple with a plethora of environmental issues. From printing plates and ink tins, to pallets and packaging there is plenty of potential for generating waste. Then, high volumes of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) emanate from the printing process as inks dry, sending colourless and odourless gases into the atmosphere, damaging the ozone layer, not to mention the lungs of print workers. The main oils used in non-vegetable based inks are petroleum-based too. All in all, the industry has not been a friend to the planet.
Recognising these negative attributes and a growing desire for its customers to respond more positively to their environmental responsibility, Seacourt has long found new ways of printing that do not negatively affect the environment. Back in 1997, it became one of the first commercial printers in the UK to make use of waterless printing technology.
Since then, it has continued to evolve its offering as a truly green printer, achieving stringent environmental management standards, becoming carbon neutral, switching to 100% renewable energy and even installing a wormery to make use of the thousands of teabags thrown into the office bins every year.
Seacourt reduced its VOC emissions by more than 98.5% too. And in October 2009, it became the world’s first zero waste printing company; it has no waste bins on site and sends absolutely nothing to landfill.
I’ll let Gareth, the company's managing director, tell you more about his business, which as you will hear, he does with plenty of vim and vigour.