It’s been a busy year for the Epson community. We’ve ridden the waves of the pandemic together with our partners and have seen it through what we hope to be the worst of things, however, remain ever cautious and vigilant of the coming months and to ensuring we’re meeting the increasing demand for business inkjet printing.
And what a year it’s been for reinforcing the values of environmental sustainability. In February, the announcement of Yoshiro Nagafusa as the new President for Epson Europe was shortly followed by Epson 25 Renewed, a new corporate vision for solving societal issues in the new normal. At the same time, Epson also renewed its Environmental Vision 2050, committing Epson to reducing carbon emissions in line with the 1.5°C scenario by 2030, committing to 100% renewable electricity by 2023, investing 100 billion yen (approx. £350 million) on decarbonisation before 2030.
In May this year we announced a new partnership with National Geographic to promote the importance of heat-free technologies such as business inkjet as a preventative to permafrost thawing and the subsequent implications this has on climate change. And later we announced a new European-wide partnership with iconic athlete Usain Bolt, who is helping us to educate a wider audience on the cost and energy-saving benefits of the cartridge-free EcoTank printer.
In June Epson was selected for inclusion in the FTSE4Good Index Series for the 18th Consecutive Year, and in October Epson received its second consecutive platinum rating by independent assessors EcoVadis, placing Epson in the top 1% of companies in the industry for sustainability.
More recently, Epson was named as the most sustainable company in Japan by Forbes Japan magazine and at the beginning of November, Epson become the first1 company in the Japanese manufacturing industry to convert to 100% renewable electricity for all its domestic sites2.
But commenting on the highlights is nothing if we’re unable to provide more tangible information on how we’re progressing against our greater commitments, which is why Epson Europe has just launched its latest Green Choice report.
A global spotlight on Glasgow
But to the public eye, the true culmination of this year as far as environmental sustainability goes was COP26 in Glasgow over the first two weeks of November. This may not have given the world a great sign of relief, particularly with the infamous resistance met by phasing out fossil fuels, but certainly provided a wake-up call that now is the time to act.
We had the privilege of being in Glasgow for COP26 where we met with partners as well as members of the education and public sectors to understand the trajectory of environmental sustainability in Scottish education, and how technology can help. Key takeaways from this were clear. Firstly, education needs to be further optimised to teach students how to make practical considerations around climate change, and the technology sector has an open invitation to play its part in supporting this. Secondly, environmental sustainability needs to play a more critical role in the buying criteria from public sector organisations and the outcomes need to be made more publicly aware to those reaping the benefits.
Polls we ran on social media with the Herald ahead of COP26 revealed that 46% of people believe manufacturers should be taking the most responsibility for Scotland’s fight against climate change, while a separate 46% believed this should be the Public Sector. The majority (55%) said more renewable energy was the biggest improvement needed in Scotland to tackle climate change, while only a quarter (25%) said they were reducing their energy consumption in order to address the crisis. For me, this only reinforced our responsibility as a vendor to drive awareness around energy efficient solutions and that we should never stop challenging the status quo for what more we can do to tackle climate change.
Making incremental changes
What’s been clear over the last two years is that the technology industry, and the
fewer of us within the print world, have made dramatic changes to overcome the challenges that were imminently thrown at us with the COVID-19 pandemic. But for many, it’s clear it will take a COVID- sized imminence to realise similar change based around the climate crisis.
At COP26 we came across numerous technological solutions designed out of necessity for tackling the climate crisis, clever inventions specifically designed to help get us out of this mess. But for the vast majority of the industry, we have to adopt rather than redefine our solutions in order to ensure legacy technologies that people still need can continue their place in the world without compromising the environment. And despite my passion for sustainable technology solutions, printers aren’t going to save us from climate change. But what they can do is offer an incremental benefit to the environment that also competes as well if not better on cost and productivity.
Epson’s business inkjet technology is a disruptive innovation. It’s superior cost benefits, courtesy of higher ink yields, lower energy and lower serviceability, challenge the existence of the traditional laser printer on every level. This is what makes our value proposition so easy to sink in with the channel. But it also offers businesses an incremental tool for tackling climate change. It won’t change the world, but if all businesses across Europe switched from laser to Epson’s Heat-free business inkjet technology, they could save enough energy annually to power 800,000 electric cars for a year, cut €152m in energy costs and lower CO2 emissions by 410m kilograms, an amount it would typically take 19m trees a year to absorb.
Our message to resellers, forever at the forefront of our sales operation, has been to take stock of these impacts and to educate end-users on the role they can play as well.
Our Heat-Free business inkjet printing technology is a key driver not only for the environmental benefits it offers end-users on behalf of the printing industry, but as a key growth opportunity for Epson. As a result, this year has also seen the restructure of Epson UK and Ireland with a new team, led by myself, dedicated to replacing laser printers and MFPs with Epson heat-free inkjet solutions under a managed print service. This restructure couldn’t make me happier as not only does it allow me to focus my time and resources on an area I’m most experienced and comfortable with, but it shows our resellers that our commitment to business inkjet pivots around driving their growth as well as our own. Fortunately, I’ve entered this restructure with the strength of experience from Channel Manager Nick Taylor, whose team of channel and end-user focussed account managers are dedicated to collaborating with our resellers to create, support and close large corporate, public sector and other projects. And Business Manager Mark Rosindell, whose team of product management and framework specialists are dedicated to building business opportunities for MPS and public sector sales for business inkjet.
As we look forwards to a new year and to overcoming any final challenges thrown at us from the pandemic, not to mention Brexit and the Suez Canal, my message to the Epson community and to the wider print world is to advocate change. The climate crisis is becoming increasingly personal to some yet resembles a fleeting consideration for others. We all want to be proud of our actions and where we work, and we want to know that our organisations are addressing a crisis that will continue to outweigh the COVID-19 pandemic. Change will not happen overnight and every one of us has the ability to influence more positive outcomes for the environment.
Environmental sustainability won’t magically appear on the paradigm of customer buying incentives unless they understand it properly and they recognise that it won’t compromise their business. Together with our resellers, we’re asking end-users to meet us half-way in reducing their energy consumption and waste with business inkjet. And we look forwards to another successful year doing this together with you.