Commercial printer Quad/Graphics has been at the forefront of the environmental movement in the publishing community. Joe Muehlbach is the company's corporate director of facilities and environmental policy.
Media Business: What are the next steps that publishers can take to be more environmentally conscious?
Muehlbach: The industry right now is very focused on proper for-estry, carbon footprints and the climate-change issue. We're working with a number of organiza-tions to create a pro-gram for mailers to take a larger look at their eco footprints rather than just their carbon footprints.
MB: How do you define eco footprints?
Muehlbach: It's a 360-degree approach to impact. It's taking a look at your operation, the efficiencies within your operation, the ability to maximize your output and maximize your quality while at the same time you look at your consumption of resources and how to minimize your consumption. It's also looking at waste streams. There's a lot of focus on air emissions. We encourage people to look at all emissions, not only what you're putting into the air but what you're putting into the water and what you're putting into landfills. What percentage of your solid waste generation is being funneled into recycling streams rather than landfills? We want to be a landfill-free company. For 2008, 98.6% of our solid waste generated was captured and recycled. ... Water conservation is big for us. There are water shortages all over the country. We're trying to use gray water more.
MB: Plenty of publishers want to be more environmentally conscious, but the economy makes it difficult for them to do so, right?
Muehlbach: One strict rule we've always had is you always have to look at the three-legged stool: business, environment, social responsibility. When it comes to sustainability initiatives, the topic has been overcomplicated. It's about efficiency. —M.J.M.