The European Union’s Green Deal could be an extremely big deal for printers

The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

In December 2019, the European Union (EU) announced that it is investing €100 billion to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. By climate-neutral the EU means that emissions will be balanced with the removal of warming gases from the atmosphere. This is an ambitious undertaking. Much of the funding will be directed at business and industry as part of the EU’s commitment to protect human life, animals and plants through reduced pollution. In addition the EU has aspirations to help companies become world leaders in clean technologies and products, and to manage the transition to climate neutrality with full inclusivity. This means that emissions are controlled balanced with ways of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The €100 billion is only the start: the EU aims to mobilise an astonishing €1 trillion over the next decade to jumpstart the continent’s shift to a net-zero economy.

For the graphics industry this could be an extremely big deal, not just for printers and publishers but also for developers. Improving the recyclability of consumables, or improving process efficiency and manufacturing impacts would all qualify for EU support. And for others in the supply chain, with any luck, industry associations are already finding out more about how this initiative can support members and their business partners.

The EU’s key policies include investment into new emissions-cutting and green technologies and EU climate-neutral business investments to help with the transition, so that no one is left behind. It has established a new funding scheme to help businesses to adjust to greener production methods. On average European industry uses only 12% of recycled materials, so improving this rate will be a key priority, one that the paper people should be especially keen on.

A key part of the strategy is to provide support for businesses so that they can modernise to be more efficient and use more recycled materials. This could also include support in supply chains for sorting and processing of waste. Another important goal is to reduce resource extraction, because between 1970 and 2017, this has tripled and keeps growing.

Perhaps of greatest interest is the money the EU is putting into its efforts. It will spend €100 billion on state aid to boost green investing and to fund transitions to this Green Deal objectives. This is a lot of money which will come from new money plus various other EU funds where procedures for claiming and allocating money are proven.

The EU is already a pioneering leader in the fight to combat climate change and provides other geographies with a model they can observe. What works in the EU may not work elsewhere or for all industries, including graphics. But its efforts set the bar for other regions, sparing them the effort of coming up with new ideas. Most importantly, the EU is taking all the risk to actually make a difference and to help slow down global warming.

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa GraphicsEFIFespaFujifilmHPKodakMiraclonRicohSpindrift, Splash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon.