Seacourt’s eco printing blueprint – will the public sector be next?

Seacourt: Gareth Dinnage on Planet Positive Printing

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Conventional printing is a water-intensive business but for the past 25 years the Oxford-based company has been pioneering its waterless and chemical-free LightTouch printing, a trade-marked process saving millions of litres backed by sustainable LED light drying. Surrounding that is a bigger green network that Seacourt has built so each green measure it takes is maximised and underlines its authenticity.

The company’s energy supply is 100 percent renewable and all waste generated is sent to 18 different recycling streams. Not a scrap goes landfill, while a battalion of worms demolish any office food leftovers.

The transformation from standard lithographic printer into lone green radical, at a time when being eco was still strictly fringe, has been seismic for Seacourt’s owners, brothers Gareth Dinnage, its managing director and operations chief Nick.

But once they realised how damaging to the environment conventional industry practices, including that water massive consumption, were the pair confronted the challenges wholesale change brings and haven’t waivered since from their commitment. 

Acutely conscious that worthy intentions are nothing without action, they introduced across-the-board production innovations, backed by almost £2million of in-house investment.

That has catapulted the business into being a star of the B Corp world, an accolade for firms that balance purpose and profit. Seacourt stands today as the highest-ranking B Corp printing and media company in the world. 

The expertise acquired has now coalesced into a consultancy blueprint for others now realising the cost-versus-value balance has to be rethought and the wider public credibility to be gained from working with partners that all share impeccable environmental credentials.     

Seacourt’s growth is set to be 21 percent this year and turnover is forecast for £5million in 2023.

“We have been way ahead of the environmental curve and have proved our planet positive printing strategy is viable,” says Gareth.

“We’ve achieved this by not listening to what the market is saying or doing and not accepting the status quo.

Our waterless printing technology produces high-quality results, but finding companies at first that shared our outlook was very difficult.

There have been a lot of glass ceilings to break that sometimes we’ve thought not possible.

“Thankfully society is catching up with the realisation about the planet and more are aligned to our approach.

We advise customers, for example, about how to stop generating waste to landfill, and support them in having printed materials that are carbon negative.”

The company also backs projects in Ghana and Bangladesh diverting carbon emissions and improving public health by enabling more eco-friendly cooking methods.

“Collaboration is vital and we hold regular ‘labs’ sharing ideas. Responsible practice goes much further than simply putting ink on paper, it’s the whole supply chain. Just chasing turnover is not our goal,” adds Gareth. 

Customer spend ranges from £1,000 upwards and the business is also seeing uptake change both in the type of clients, all based in the UK, and the orders it receives that range from brochures, books and direct mail to large format advertising. 

On-side customers such as specialist food retailer Planet Organic have been joined by more mainstream commercial ones and challenger brands. 

“The market is picking up, people’s habits are changing too, we’re seeing a lot of demand for recipe cards as internet food deliveries increase,” explains Gareth.

The company which has two sites is about to expand with a third and aims to have a team of 35 in 2022. 

But given all the declarations, not least at COP26, and schemes like the local net zero programme, surely the public sector must be knocking on Seacourt’s door?

Apparently not, perhaps they are slow off the mark for all the green warning messages, one thing is sure though, Seacourt would welcome a call from procurement managers, say its local councils for a start. 

Better carbon labelling rules would also help SMEs that are doing their environmental best, says Gareth.

“We need clear consistent reporting and perhaps link that to business rates and corporation tax incentives,” he suggests. “Recognition is needed for SMEs doing right by the planet.”

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