Sustainability is, and will continue to be for many years to come, an incredibly important factor for print service providers, no matter the size of their business or the markets in which they operate.
However, despite an increasing demand from customers that both their print, and the service they receive from the print service provider, become even greener, there is still a sense of uncertainty when it comes to improving sustainability credentials.
Recent research published by Ricoh Europe found that one in four business leaders believe that their organisation cannot make improvements in terms of reducing their impact on the environment. Of the 1,500 businesses polled, around two-thirds say that their employees care more about how environmentally sustainable the company is now compared to five years ago, but 65% are unsure about how – or indeed do not have the resources – to achieve meaningful change.
And it is here where Ricoh can help. As a manufacturer with a committed and long-term goal to become greener in terms of its own operations and the solutions it provides to the market, Ricoh is in the perfect position to offer advice to customers to help them achieve their sustainability goals, as well as provide the technology they need to reach these targets.
Addressing social challenges
Ricoh’s mission is to pursue excellence, improving the quality of life and driving sustainability based on the Spirit of Three Loves, a dedication to people, one's country, and a passion for work that is not only true of the business as it is today, but also constituted by the principles of Ricoh founder Kiyoshi Ichimura.
According to Ricoh Chief Executive Jake Yamashita: “Any company that doesn’t contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals will be ignored by the market and will go out of business. Companies in the future will be evaluated not just by their financial performance, but also their contribution to addressing these social challenges.”
As a basis for its long-term green commitment, Ricoh has established seven ‘Material Issues’ based on contributions to the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. These include creativity from work, quality of life enhancement, zero-carbon society, circular economy, stakeholder engagement, open innovation, and diversity and inclusion.
These goals aim to create new markets and value propositions by looking more broadly at social issues, as well as taking on the challenge to resolve them while simultaneously achieving Ricoh's own business growth targets.
Ricoh’s approach to sustainability touches every part of the business; from the manufacturing of its print and IT solutions, to distribution, its network of business sites, recycling, and how it supports its customers.
Across all sites, the company undertakes a wide range of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives in alignment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals to help communities prosper and significantly reduce the environmental footprint of business operations.
To help significantly reduce its ecological footprint, efforts include energy conservation and prevention of global warming, whereby the company is focused on reducing emissions in its own operations and has committed to using 100% renewable energy sources across its sites by 2050. Ricoh is continually looking for ways to reduce customers’ CO2 emissions by offering eco-friendly products and solutions through its Sustainability Optimisation Programme.
This also includes resource conservation and recycling, where, to measure and minimise the use of new resources, the company applies a ‘3R’ approach – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – to all its products. This approach also helps to reduce water consumption and the amount of waste generated from business activities, with specific goals to reduce waste, water and product footprint in place.
Circle of life
Ricoh also believes in a ‘circular economy’, having in 1994, when sustainability was not as high on the agenda as it is now, taken the initiative and established the Comet Circle, its own circular economy model. Comet Circle explains the company’s approach to reusing parts and recycling materials within the organisation and across its wider economic activities, supplier network and product lifecycles.
By applying this concept within Ricoh, the business can reduce its environmental impact at each stage of the product lifecycle, with consideration for all stakeholders involved, including its own businesses, suppliers, customers and recycling companies.
This also allows Ricoh to promote a multi-tiered recycling system to recover used products, reuse and recycle their parts to reduce the need for new materials and minimise waste, as well as build strong partnerships to reduce environmentally sensitive substances in the manufacturing process, while improving transport efficiency.
The commitment to returning and recycling products takes a step further with the Ricoh Resource Smart Return programme, which offers customers a free-of-charge and easy service to return Ricoh's end-of-life parts and consumables to sorting centres across EMEA.
All these sorting centres use the Ricoh Asset Management System, which recognises the parts and supplies containing reusable components – such as metals, plastics and cardboard – that are then re-packed, ready to be reused.
Pre-owned devices are collected, selected and remanufactured according to a Ricoh unified standard, which prolongs the lifecycle of devices and reduces the total environmental impact of business operations.
While re-using and recycling is a huge part of Ricoh’s sustainability commitment, its R&D teams also pay an incredible amount of attention to the environment when developing new printing solutions for the market.
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) data shows within the lifespan of a Ricoh product, the largest impact – more than 60% - occurs in the “in-use” phase, with paper accounting for 78%. While the in-use phase is solely managed by customers, Ricoh can offer a wide range of solutions through the Sustainability Optimisation Programme to help customers operate with an environmentally responsible approach.
To ensure all products are designed in a sustainable way, the company launched the Ricoh Sustainable Products programme (RSPP), an internal assessment initiative that helps to improve its products and services based on internal criteria for environmental performance, usability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Further still, the Ricoh Eco Business Development Center in Japan is a reuse and recycling centre dedicated to developing eco business technologies, new innovative ideas and test applications in collaboration with customers. Oil recovery from plastic waste and wood biomass utilisation are amongst the many technological innovations being developed.
Such has been the success of these sustainably-focused development strategies that Ricoh products meet a whole host of international and European Eco label requirements for environmental design and efficiency.
These include the Blue Angel Mark, gold rankings from EPEAT and an A rating for Climate Leadership and B for water security from the Carbon Disclosure Project. Ricoh has won a host of other awards and continues to pick up honours in recognition of its long-term sustainability goals.
Meeting international standards is not limited to Ricoh machinery, with four global production hubs in Japan, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas promoting sustainable environmental management within the framework of the international standard ISO 14001.
Ricoh also tackles pollution by minimising the risks of chemical substances throughout the product lifecycle. It uses a chemical substance control system to monitor data on chemical substances used, discharged, and disposed of at business sites, which helps promote the reduced use of chemical substances, collect data and quickly respond to inquiries.
In addition, Ricoh is committed to protecting biodiversity and ecosystems from numerous threats – the majority of which are caused by humans – such as pollution, climate change and over exploitation of resources.
Employees are actively encouraged to take part in social contributions such as fundraising, donating goods and participating in social or environmental activities, while the company has been promoting global forest conservation projects since 1999 in partnership with local NGOs and local communities.
What underlines Ricoh’s commitment to sustainability is that the company never stops innovating; it is always looking for ways to further improve eco-credentials and constantly looks for new partners that share its green goals.
Recently, Ricoh partnered with Farbenpunkt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions with a waterless and chemical-free solution for textile ink in the form of PeractoJet. The collaboration enables OEM clients to compete in the highly attractive digital textile market and enhance their environmental offering.
Traditional fabric dyeing and treatment accounts for 20% of worldwide wastewater, while the global fashion industry generates 10% of annual global carbon emissions. With the new partnership, Ricoh is now able to provide an environmentally responsible alternative approach for digital textile printers by pairing its broad printhead portfolio with Farbenpunkt’s unique Peracto Technology.
The optimised combination is ideal for apparel and home furnishing applications. It delivers more than 90% savings in fresh and wastewater use, as well as 50% savings in energy use, leading to significant reductions in CO2 emissions. Also, no Volatile Organic Compounds are emitted.
This collaboration builds on Ricoh’s longstanding history of innovative inkjet head development and allows Ricoh to support a production sector looking for ways to address growing questions around sustainability. Digitally producing textiles with vastly reduced water waste and eliminating energy intensive pre and post treatment stages delivers huge environmental benefits.
As a leading manufacturer of print solutions, Ricoh’s focus is on developing technology that will help businesses succeed in the modern market, but in the most environmentally friendly way possible.
Demand for more sustainable and planet-friendly print work is only going to increase as customers, and indeed their own clients, seek to paint themselves in a greener light. By working with Ricoh, which prides itself on delivering environmentally friendly, yet highly productive and high-quality solutions, print businesses can achieve this – and so much more.
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