The service, set to go live next week, has been a year in development by the firm’s in-house team and is based on a complex algorithm that automatically analyses orders put through Haybrooke’s PDQ Sales Hub print procurement service and breaks down the plastic content of each order.
The idea is that it will enable customers to understand exactly what they are ordering and how environmentally friendly and recyclable it is, and indeed whether they want to look for alternative ‘greener’ materials to complete their job.
“We’re acutely aware of the harm that plastic is causing environmentally on a global scale, and we want to give customers the benefit of understanding their choices relating to plastic in terms of substrates that contain plastic for use on printed products,” explained Haybrooke chief executive John Roche.
“When we decided to do this, it wasn’t to be evangelical and guide printers not to use laminate, we don’t feel that’s our role, but we wanted to give people a guide to how much plastic is being used for a given specification so that they can make the choice,” he said.
Roche, who launched Haybrooke in 2006, said that while developing the new feature, the now 10-strong team had been very surprised at the amount of plastic used just by adding a simple laminate to a job: on 5,000 B1 sheets, laminating both sides uses more than a quarter of a tonne of plastic.
“Single-use plastics are a fundamental problem and we feel the printing industry needs to step up to the plate and recognise that, and indeed the clients that have helped us drive this through are themselves working with end customers who are very responsible and want to understand their impact,” stated Roche.
“We’re not saying plastics are bad for printed products because of course we all work and operate in the printing industry and we want it to be successful but we also want the printing industry to be making the right choices and taking responsibility for those choices when it comes to their contribution to plastic waste and CO2 emissions."
He continued: “Of course there are arguments for plastic in printed products such as calendars that need to be durable, but more of a problem is when laminates are being added to printed products just to increase their allure when it’s a very short-use product.
“If we can give the consumer of the product the right information, they can make a choice and decide whether it really needs plastic or if on the other hand it’s just a flyer perhaps there are better ways of doing it such as UV varnish or embossing or foil blocking for example.”
Roche said that once the system is up and running the company may consider, in the future, working with clients to find green alternatives to plastics for its print customers, depending on developments.
The introduction of the plastic measurement service, which will move from testing to go live this week, comes a year after the company launched its carbon offsetting system, which Roche said had been “tremendously well received”. It factors the additional price to offset its services’ carbon footprint into the final bill as a non-optional premium for clients who use Haybrooke as an intermediary between themselves and print suppliers.
Once the plastic measurement system goes live, users of the PDQ system will see no difference in how they make their quote requests but once they have entered the specification details they will see exact details of the plastic content of their order within the paper and packaging elements of their order, as well as the CO2 emissions generated.