The news may not have hit mainstream media, but at one point Toshiba had launched a National No-Print Day campaign. While the proposed event had good intentions, it was blocked by members of Printing Industries of America (PIA) and other organizations from the printing community. Why? Read on to find out.
What’s a National No-Print Day?
Originally scheduled to take place on October 23, 2012, the National No-Print Day (NNPD) aimed to stop the use of paper for making photocopies or printing for a day. People were encouraged to pledge on a site the Toshiba people have set up specifically for this event. For every pledge, Toshiba will plant a tree which would help them reach their goal of planting 1.5 million trees by 2025 (in time for their 150th anniversary).
Bill Melo, vice president of marketing, services and solution for Toshiba America Business Solutions, Inc., had this to say about the initiative:
“We know that approximately 336,000,000 sheets of paper are wasted daily — that’s more than 40,000 trees discarded every day in America. We, as individuals and companies, are failing to make the link between printing waste and its negative impacts on our landfills, natural resources and the environment.”
As to why a printer company like Toshiba would sponsor something that could do them more harm than good, representatives from Toshiba, through the official site for NNPD (which is no longer available since Toshiba abandoned the project), issued this statement:
“We’re people. People who breathe the same air, swim in the same water, and play fetch in the same parks as everyone else. We’re people who recognize the earth is an irreplaceable asset.”
In summation, the whole NNPD was made to get people and companies to start printing smarter and practice sustainable consumption.
So Why the Big Fuss?
While Toshiba may have had good intentions, the alleged incorrect data Toshiba presented had rubbed those in the printing industry the wrong way. The problem stems from Toshiba linking paper-related environmental issues to printing in general which isn’t the case according to the Printing Industries of America’s President and CEO, Michael Makin:
“Toshiba claims that our industry has failed ‘to make the link between printing waste and its negative impacts on our landfills, natural resources and the environment.’ Our industry has long led the way utilizing sustainable processes. The primary raw material for printing is paper, which comes from trees, which are a renewable resource — so renewable that today, our country has 20 percent more trees than it did on the first Earth Day which was held more than 40 years ago.”
Adding to his point, Mr. Makin has described the situation as “hypocritical” considering how paper is a renewable resource and that electronic devices like the ones Toshiba produces are made from non-renewable resources.
“Printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint — all other media require energy every time they are viewed. Electronic devices, which Toshiba produces, for example, require the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, as well as the use of plastics, hydrocarbon solvents, and other non-renewable resources. Moreover 50–80 percent of electronic waste collected for recycling is shipped overseas and is often unsafely dismantled. For Toshiba to call for such a ban on printing is hypocritical to say the least.”
But Michael Makin isn’t the only one unimpressed. Other groups have also shown support for the printing industry. Some had even planned on making Oct 23, 2012 a “No-Toshiba Day” instead. Clearly, misconceptions about printing will not be tolerated.
So What Now?
Possibly due to the backlash Toshiba had suffered, Bill Melo had reached out to Michael Makin to arrange a truce. Melo pulled down every trace of the No-Print Day campaign – which includes the site and the YouTube videos they made to promote the campaign.
In a letter to association members, Makin gave details about his talk with Melo:
“Mr. Melo was quite ‘concerned’ with how the campaign had been received by the commercial printing industry and stressed it was never the intent of his company to disenfranchise or insult our industry. He explained that the campaign was always directed at the office marketplace where he opined there was needless waste.”
For now, the campaign is laid to rest until a better one can be put in its place.
A Lesson Learned?
Is there a lesson to be learned from all this? I believe so. I think Toshiba had good intentions when they thought of launching this project. However, a campaign based on inaccurate data will definitely not fly by unnoticed – especially when such a campaign could harm the livelihood of thousands of people (if not more).
You’re probably thinking that the printing industry may have overreacted. After all, the campaign only called for people to not print for one day. Where’s the harm in that, right? But you have to understand that to support this event is akin to pleading guilty to the false accusation being thrown against the printing industry.
There are companies like ours who thrive on making printing as eco-friendly as possible while other printing companies have started to follow suit. As for UPrinting, we had been using soy-based inks for some time now. We even offer paper options that contain up to 55% post-consumer recycled content — with the remaining content coming from sources that practice sustainable forestry.
In the end, Toshiba’s National No-Print Day Campaign, ironic as this may sound, has helped the printing industry spread word about the misconceptions about paper waste. And for that, we have Toshiba to thank.