Blueline Sustainability Ranking: Your Tool for Reaching Eco-Minded Customers

The trend toward corporate transparency and sustainability leadership is taking hold around the globe and across sectors in response to ever escalating customer and consumer demand. The most recent indicator of this was announced in March when up and coming global clothing giant Uniqlo posted — publicly — a list of 150 suppliers as part of a broad sustainability platform.

Highlighting Uniqlo’s increased transparency, the Nekkei Asian Review reported, “Many Western companies have responded to the shifting tide toward ethical consumption. U.S. retailer Gap and Britain’s Marks and Spencer disclosed supplier factories last year. H&M (Hennes & Maruitz) of Sweden and America’s Nike have publicized theirs as well.”[i]

U.S. business publication,, has also noted this shift and it goes far beyond the apparel sector. “In order to be counted as a truly sustainable business, a company’s supply chain must be sustainable. As companies make sustainability demands of their suppliers, and those suppliers make similar demands on theirs, a spider’s web of sustainable practices and transparent reporting is extending itself across the globe.”[ii]

Transparent reporting and sustainability leadership are at the heart of Canopy’s Blueline ranking of North American printers across a robust series of sustainability indicators. The Blueline ranking is a tool increasingly valued by print customers striving to meet their own CSR objectives. And the Blueline ranking is about to be updated for 2017.

On May 1, 2017, the Canopy team will begin analyzing the publicly reported sustainability policies and practices of major printers. The resulting analysis directs print customers to the sector leaders in environmental responsibility.

Over 30 specific criteria are used to evaluate the sustainability of North American print leaders, including their sourcing policies, fiber preferences, the availability of certified and recycled paper products, CSR reporting and most importantly, their level of transparency on these important indicators. Given new developments in the realm of sustainability since the last Blueline report was issued, additional criteria focused on forest conservation initiatives and supply chain shifts will also be assessed in the 2017 analysis.

The printed medium is a major part of a company’s face to the world. Increasingly, brands have recognized that printed materials can minimize their environmental impacts, depending on the eco-credentials of their printers and the papers used for the job. It is well documented that the high carbon footprint of printing is mainly attributable to paper choices, much of which can be avoided by not sourcing papers that originate from the logging of ancient and endangered forests. For many brands, working with sustainable print partners and using papers with high recycled fiber, straw or FSC fiber content is an increasingly important element of meeting their own sustainability targets.

Nor is it just print customers who are scrutinizing a company’s environmental performance. Business journals are reporting that institutional investors, subject to demands from their own clientele, are starting to preference companies with strong sustainability programs.

So how does a print customer — or an investor — know which printers can best meet their CSR needs? As Uniqlo and other major brands have determined, transparency is key.

Canopy is confident that behind the scenes, many North American printers are implementing robust sustainability efforts and have stories of integrity to tell. But your customers — and prospective customers — won’t know that unless it’s publicly acknowledged. And in today’s age of green marketing and overly enthusiastic self-promotion, many customers will also look to a third party to verify self-claims. That’s where Canopy’s Blueline comes in.

As with any ‘blueline’ change, printers can make late entries and changes to their sustainability reporting. In fact, printers have until April 30th to post their progressive actions on sustainability and inform their customers — and Canopy researchers — of the steps they are taking to improve their environmental performance.

Canopy’s analysis of North America’s top printers will begin May 1st and the 2017 Blueline rankings will be released to customers in June.

Will your company be featured in the Top 10 of North America’s most sustainable major printers? Will your firm be identified as a sustainability leader — or a laggard?

Your customers will be watching closely for the result.

Review the 2016 Blueline rankings and contact Canopy to improve or maintain your ranking. We’ll be pleased to work with you to identify the steps you can take to move up the sustainability — and Blueline — ladder.



By Catherine Stewart
“This post originally appeared on Printing Impressions.”

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