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Quocirca: Sustainability becoming top factor in print world

Customers want to get to net zero and the print channel must be able to show it can support that ambition

The next few years will see the issue of sustainability take centre stage in the printing world, with customers increasingly looking for answers from vendors and their channel partners.

According to Quocirca’s Sustainability trends report 2022, those responsible for IT decisions across customers with 500-plus staff are keen to ensure that the technology they use supports wider green ambitions and commitments as more move towards net-zero carbon positions.

The analyst house found that many had made sustainability their top commitment and there were signs that those decisions would have an impact on the print channel.

According to the report, half of the IT decision-makers said their net-zero goal would have an influence on their choice of print supplier.

There were also signs that those in the channel that relied on the traditional revenues of hardware and consumables would have to start looking at managed print as customers continued to try to drive down printed paper volumes.

Quocirca found that 71% of decision-makers wanted to reduce paper consumption by at least 30% by 2025. A similar percentage were already recycling paper, with 58% implementing digital signatures and 52% adopting digital workflows to avoid printing.

“Businesses recognise that a considerable proportion of their environmental impact resides in their supply chain,” said Quocirca research director Louella Fernandes. “To reduce it, they need suppliers to minimise the whole lifecycle impact of products and be achieving net-zero goals of their own.

“Our research found that, by 2025, reducing environmental impact will be the top priority for businesses, eclipsing customer experience and cyber security concerns. A priority for customers must also be a priority for the industry and we expect to see vendors focusing heavily on sustainability as they position themselves as valuable partners on the journey to net zero.”

The report found that compared with the US, the UK lagged behind, with only 19% of those surveyed fully implementing a sustainability strategy, compared with 38% on the other side of the Atlantic. But 46% of UK respondents named reducing environmental impact in their top three business priorities for 2022, indicating that it would be a main topic for the rest of this year.

“Vendors should ensure that sustainability factors are clearly in evidence when engaging with smaller business,” Fernandes added. “Customers need tangible data, transparently communicated, so they can select the technology partner that will deliver the most appropriate solution for their business.”

Given the emphasis on paper and the reality that print volumes have been falling for some years, the print channel has already been adapting to ensure it has a continuing role in the market.

“The print industry has a good record of pursuing sustainability through innovation, with initiatives to reduce device power and resource consumption embedded across the sector, and a growing drive towards circularity,” said Fernandes.

“Looking forward, vendors need to confidently articulate their progress in areas such as increasing the amount of recycled material in devices and pursuing sustainable manufacturing and distribution practices. Demonstrating alignment with sustainable reporting frameworks will also play a part in assuring customers that they have a systematic and rigorous long-term sustainability strategy.”

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