Mark Hargreaves reports on a Cork company in PJ’s Green Challenge to find the industry’s environmental champions
IRISH independent printing company Webprint Concepts is becoming green and lean, thanks to calling in resource efficiency experts.
Webprint Concepts says “we believe that our aim to become the greenest printer in Ireland is the right thing to do” and that there have been competitive advantages to going green.
The company decided to ramp up its environmental programme in spring last year by calling in GreenBusiness.ie, a company offering Irish business assistance in improving resource efficiency through the provision of on- site support, online site assessment and benchmarking tools.
Webprint Concepts delivers the latest in web offset printing technology to ensure that it consistently prints newspapers and magazines to the highest standards.
Irish owned and run, the company specialises in newspaper printing and currently prints many major daily and weekly titles including the Irish Examiner, Evening Echo Cork, Sunday Business Post, the Western People, the Nationalist series, the Wexford Echo series and The Sentinel. The company produces some 3,000,000 newspapers every week and one of its clear goals is to become the greenest printer in Ireland, a goal it is well on the way to achieving.
Head of operations Michael O’Brien says: “We believe that our aim to become the greenest printer in Ireland is the right thing to do. As a corporate entity we should care for the environment and protect the health, safety, welfare and livelihood of all our stakeholders.
“From a commercial perspective we see a competitive advantage of ‘going green’ and in many cases customersdemand that their printer operates to high environmental standards.
“Once we have achieved our goal we will put in place an environmental management system which will assure our customers that environmental stewardship and controls are stitched into the way we do business.”
Webprint originally decided to look closely at its environmental performance and how to improve it in 2008. Even before GreenBusiness became involved, the company had implemented some significant environmental changes which benefited both the environment and the company’s bottom line. This included looking closely at the company’s electricity usage and introducing ideas such as using press nip gauges to minimise excessive roller pressure saving energy, fitting T5 fluorescent tubes in most areas to replace standard slimline tubes and introducing photocell ambient light controls in the main press area, saving up to 12 hours of high bay lighting use on a summer’s day when ambient light levels are generally adequate.
Over a four year period, Webprint has seen its electricity consumption reduce from 9,500kWh per day to just 8,000kWh per day, resulting in an impressive saving of €47,000 per year at current unit prices.
Also prior to using GreenBusiness, Webprint had cut the paper wasted on reels by reducing the number of outer layers of paper that are scrapped and running the reel down to a few millimetres on the circumference resulting in an €11,000 saving per year.
“As a lean business we do not have the full time resources to work on environmental matters specifically. GreenBusiness offered the external specialist skilled resources to audit our activities and recommend improvements,” says O’Brien.
The first task performed by GreenBusiness was an extensive site visit which led to a review of many aspects of the company’s operations and the identification of a range of potential improvement opportunities.
Since the original site visit in spring 2011, Webprint had already, by October 2011, implemented a wide range of improvements based on recommendations from GreenBusiness.
These included: Optimising the air supply to the main press hall through modulation according to the number of presses operating, temperature and humidity. This varies the supply frequency on four motors from 15hz in ‘power save’ mode up to 35 hz in full production. Savings are estimated at €3,000 a year
Moving space heating radiators from the old boiler on to the new condensing boiler to increase the load on this highly efficient unit and decrease the load on the less efficient boiler
Starting an annual compressed air survey which includes using ultrasonic detectors to reduce leaks
Replacing the open roller solvent wash baths, switching to organic press room cleaners, saving €6,500 per year.
Says O’Brien: “We’ve got a wide range of other environmental initiatives to implement. We’ll also be looking at including installing occupancy sensors to reduce lighting load in areas not heavily used and seeing how we can dispose of ink and cardboard waste in ways that not only protect the environment but will also benefit the bottom line.
“There is no doubt that there are, in many cases, strong financial incentives for helping to protect the environment. We reviewed the cost and payback of various initiatives before committing to implementing them. However, overall the company puts a strong emphasis on meeting or exceeding its moral and legal environmental responsibilities, building a reputation for so doing and understand that, in the longer term, this is good for business.”
The Webprint teamPhoto: Stephen ST Bradley (veetoo)