Print sustainability leaders forge ahead with ambitious goals and enhanced customer offerings

Print sustainability leaders forge ahead with ambitious goals and enhanced customer offerings

November 9, 2023

Sustainability leaders in the print industry are accelerating activity and building on established foundations to respond to the growing customer demand for sustainability-focused products, solutions, and suppliers. Quocirca’s Sustainability Leaders 2023 report finds that manufacturers are setting ambitious net-zero targets, prioritising circularity initiatives by expanding remanufactured ranges, and pursuing innovations to improve energy efficiency.

Market drivers

As the regulatory environment is growing more rigorous, vendors must comply with regulations such as the CSRD, and report in line with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) guidelines. These require companies to have good visibility over their Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.

Simultaneously, customers are increasingly demanding greater transparency from suppliers and more support to meet their own sustainability targets. Quocirca research shows that almost all (95%) companies have a sustainability strategy of some kind, and 62% say sustainability is closely linked to business performance. Crucially, 69% say help from their supplier to measure the environmental impact of the print infrastructure is important, and 46% say their choice of supplier is influenced to a great extent by their own sustainability goals.

Sustainability strategy is maturing, and circularity is a key pillar

In terms of strategy, the industry is maturing beyond the initial stages of identifying impacts and setting targets, and now starting to refine and revise those targets. Lexmark has set an ambitious net-zero target, aiming to achieve operational carbon neutrality by 2035 and full net zero by 2050 (in line with other brands). HP and Xerox have committed to net zero by 2040; Brother, Canon, and Ricoh aim to reach net zero by 2050; and Konica Minolta has come into alignment this year, committing to a 2050 net-zero target. Epson arguably goes further, aiming to be carbon-negative by 2050.

Vendors are also ensuring that their targets are validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), and providing interim reports on progress toward meeting their stated goals. This is important information for stakeholders that was not available previously. It allows them to make more informed decisions when comparing vendors.

This year has also seen several manufacturers report new or improved remanufacturing initiatives, and vendors including Brother and Konica Minolta have published targets to increase the recycled content of devices. Product life extension is also a focus, with vendors including Sharp, Epson, and Lexmark announcing initiatives such as extensions to parts and warranty and designing products for longer life from the outset.

Customer-focused services and driving sustainability through the channel

Vendors are stronger on device initiatives than they are on customer-focused sustainability services in general. All manufacturers surveyed offer some level of customer sustainability service, but these range from basic product comparison and carbon calculators to more sophisticated full consultancy-style approaches. As customer demands become more focused, we are likely to see vendors refine and develop the services they offer in response.

The channel also plays an essential role in vendors’ go-to-market strategy, so it is critical that they align on sustainability. Momentum around channel-focused sustainability programmes is growing, but manufacturers have room for more, and we are likely to see growth in this area in the coming year.

HP leads on brand perception as a sustainability leader

In Quocirca’s survey of IT decision-makers in the US, UK, France, and Germany, HP leads in brand perception as a sustainability leader. Canon holds second position, with Epson in third position.

Quocirca’s Sustainability Leaders Study includes detailed profiles of the following vendors: Brother, Canon, Epson, HP Inc., Konica Minolta, Lexmark, Ricoh, Sharp, and Xerox.

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