#58 What does a 'net positive' printer look like, anyway?

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.


Show notes

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.

Gareth Dinnage, managing director, Seacourt

Gareth Dinnage, managing director, Seacourt

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.

 

 

Episode #26 - The innovators turning cow burps into plastic

Episode 26 supported by:

Show notes

We walk a lot about plastic waste on The Better Business Show and the issue gets lots of attention on this show and in the wider environmental media because, on the whole, it's nasty stuff. The chemical building blocks that make plastics so versatile are the same components that harm people and the environment.

On average, 300 million tons of plastic are produced around the globe each year. Of this, 50% is for disposable applications such as packaging.

And plastics manufacture makes up 4.6% of the annual petroleum consumption in the U.S., using roughly 331 million barrels per year. None of this energy is recovered when plastics are disposed of in landfills, and very little is recovered when plastic waste is incinerated.

In 2008, 34 million tons of plastic was disposed in the United States. Of this, 86% ended up in landfills.

Yes, biodegradable plastics are coming and recycling infrastructure is improving, but there are big problems with plastic - from the way it is made, to the way it is disposed of.

So, what if there was a different way of making plastics.

What if there was a different way of making plastics that used pollution as the raw material. so rather than being something that causes environmental problems, the production of plastic actually helps to take nasty greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

Well, there is. This week I was delighted to speak with the founder and CEO of New Light Technologies Mark Herrema who explained how his company is capturing carbon emissions, combining it with oxygen and creating plastics that are being used everywhere.


This week's news round up featured:

1. The new cardboard and bioplastic tents pitching up at festivals
2. The new Hubbub website, sharing anti-litter campaigns – NeatStreets.co
3. Norton Point's new sunglasses made from ocean waste plastic
4. Daniel Matthews' piece on the West Virginian hemp sector


Last week we kicked off our Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future segment of the show with the good folks at Terrafiniti to celebrate the launch of a new brand new series of e-books which offer thoughts, provocations and big ideas for how we might create a sustainable future on a planet of 9 billion people.

So, Joss is back this week for Part 2 in the series as Joss Tantram, a founding partner of Terrafiniti, shares with us his best big ideas – all taken from this brilliant series of new books.

The Towards 9 Billion ebook series is out now and can be downloaded for free at the Terrafiniti website.