Looking to 2020: Environmental Sustainability with Unico

Chris Gardiner
The way of the future is environmental sustainability.

It's the ability to viably manage the environmental, social and financial demands for responsible, ethical and ongoing success. And this forms the foundations upon which Unico Creative works towards as a business for tomorrow.

When we think of environmental sustainability, the printing industry is the last place that comes to mind. Since the very first Gutenberg press in the 1450s, printing has taken on a life of its own. The sheer volume of printing that today's world eats through is beyond everyday comprehension, particularly when we think of all the DLs, postcards, brochures and pamphlets ultimately destined for recycling.

While Unico's printing services are focused on small and large format for displays, signage and campaign kitting, we still needed to address our impact upon the environment for the sake of our community and our world. We have been watching our clients steadily weaving environmental sustainability and eco-consciousness into their sales stories.

As a company, we needed to adapt.

Many of the puzzle pieces were needed for us to transparently step up to the mark as an environmentally and socially responsible company. We knew we needed to meet our and our clients' current needs and expectations while providing the needs and better outcomes for future generations.

This meant far more than using recycled paper. It had to start from the very cells of our business DNA. 

We embarked on an investigative journey extending beyond a simplistic checklist. It had to start from within as a mindset for change which involved a blanket commitment working as a top-down company-wide approach. This meant starting with the directors and CEO. We recognised this would be an eternal work in progress, consistently requiring evaluation and upkeep while setting and resetting benchmarks. Once defined within the company, this would need to stand as a significant touchstone for every business practice decision and extend throughout our entire supply chain.

Such a monumental change would impact upon every aspect of how we do business.

And so it was from such seeds a new mission and vision were planted for the future. This meant a company rebrand to reflect our end to end solutions from concept and design through to production, logistics and installation, while eluding to our environmentally sustainable vision. Andrew discusses our rebrand in detail >here.

Next, we had to develop best practice processes within our printing, signage and production departments, starting with working towards the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems Accreditation. This will reassure ourselves, our employees, customers and the community that our environmental impact is continually being contained, measured and improved to international standards and legislation.

We're a proud member of the DECC Department of Environment Climate Change - SustainabilityAdvantage Program. Being a part of this program allows us to set up a plan that

  • reduces health concerns and safety liabilities
  • reduces the risks impacting climate change
  • improves employee pride and morale
  • establishes planning and management systems for environmental practice, including processes for continuous improvement
  • establishes planning and management systems for environmental practice, including processes for continuous improvement
  • promotes sustainability practices internally among staff, and externally with suppliers, customers and the wider industry
  • plans out and achieves environmental outcomes for the next 12 months, and beyond
  • demonstrates leadership and commitment, and
  • stands out in the industry
So we had talked the talk. It was time to walk the walk - and put our money where our mouth is.

We rolled out our comprehensive environmental management system company-wide, to include

  • offering our customers better pricing with eco-friendly, premium products
  • continually testing how our production processes decrease our environmental footprint
  • changing to sustainable products, such as PVC being swapped out to polypropylene and so many more
  • using the best in CTP Computer to Plate technology with latex printing, roll-to-roll printing, dye sublimation printing and digital fabric printing
  • to eliminate harmful chemicals from the process of press preparation
  • a commitment to saving 50% in our paper usage with press preparation, using recycled or sustainably sourced paper
  • using environmentally friendly water-based inks when industry standards traditionally use inks contributing towards greenhouse gas emissions
  • using sustainably efficient substrates made from recyclable content

Our brand new and shiny HP Latex R2000 large format printer utilises water-based inks to optimise paper usage and energy consumption. We're officially going against the industry standards using UV and mineral solvent-based inks harmful to the environment. But the greatest and most significant aspect to the HP R2000: it doesn't compromise on a premium printing end product for our clients.

It is possible to be an eco-sustainable printing solution to our client's needs and expectations.

Sustainability is the status quo. We've drawn the line to join in on the fight for a sustainable viable future as print, signage, design and display production solutions for our clients' branding experiences.

We are building towards a better world.