A Q&A with sustainability expert Dr. Chris Laszlo.
Can sustainability give your company an edge? Absolutely, says Dr. Chris Laszlo of Sustainable Value Partners and author of the new book, Sustainable Value: How the World’s Leading Companies Are Doing Well by Doing Good. Laszlo regularly consults with Fortune 500 companies on sustainability and social-responsibility initiatives that create business value and competitive strength. He'll be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Signage and Graphics Summit in San Diego in January 2009.
Why should executives in the signage and graphics industry be particularly attentive to sustainability?
Laszlo: Signage companies face continued customer demands for products that are lower cost and better performing. Increasingly, environmental factors such as lower material intensity, waste minimization, and energy efficiency are ways these companies can reduce their costs. But cost reduction, tighter regulation, and social responsibility are only the tip of the iceberg. Signage and graphics leaders will find greater business benefits from meeting new customer expectations for greener products that don’t require any tradeoffs in either price or quality. The key is innovation. Sustainability provides a lens through which to rethink not only product design but also supply chain relationships.
We’re in the midst of very uncertain times. Why should print shops consider sustainability during an economic downturn?
Laszlo: The conventional wisdom is that sustainability is a "nice to have" and not a "need to have" during tough economic times. But on the contrary, there may be no better time to reorient your strategies along these lines. As has been made very clear in the financial sector, companies risk complete annihilation today if their reputation and confidence evaporates. The sub-prime mess has illustrated the huge costs of not accounting for the risks of unsustainable business practices. The clients’ definition of where business value comes from is shifting rapidly. As always, you gain a competitive advantage by being able to create stakeholder value better than others, and health and social concerns are becoming increasingly important in the final buying decision.
Can you realistically be green and profitable at the same time?
Laszlo: Wal-Mart, GE, DuPont and Toyota are proof that large companies can be green and profitable at the same time. Fairmount Minerals, Green Mountain Coffee Roaster, Interface and many other smaller companies are demonstrating that "green is green," no matter what sector or size. These companies, and hundreds more like them, are looking to their vendors to not just conform to sustainability initiatives, but to lead the way through innovation. That’s why this topic is so critical for the print shop. Being green isn’t about meeting environmental targets for their own sake. It’s about advancing your existing business priorities.
Chris Laszlo will share case studies and best practices in his keynote session, 'Sustainability for Competitive Advantage,' which leads off the 2009 Signage and Graphics Summit at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, January 26-28.
The Signage and Graphics Summit, produced by The Big Picture parent company ST Media Group, brings together top-tier executives from high-volume digital-printing, sign, and screen-printing companies to discuss common challenges, learn best practices, and explore new avenues for growth. The conference is a combination of educational seminars, roundtable discussions, networking and social events.
SIGNAGE AND GRAPHICS SUMMIT
SUSTAINABLE VALUE PARTNERS