Home News Media News How Germany’s Funke Mediengruppe is taking proactive steps towards carbon neutral printing

How Germany’s Funke Mediengruppe is taking proactive steps towards carbon neutral printing

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How Germany’s Funke Mediengruppe is taking proactive steps towards carbon neutral printing

2021-11-08. In April, the European Union announced a tentative deal to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050. While the move will affect many businesses including publishing houses and production processes, the world has come to the consensus that climate action is urgent and vital.

This means media houses earning the bulk of their revenue from print products must realign their businesses and processes along these lines and make conscious efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

Funke Mediengruppe, one of Germany’s oldest and leading publishing houses, has already started their efforts.

Established in 1948, the family-owned media house publishes the newspaper Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung and magazines like Gong and Die Aktuelle. It operates three printing plants and sees an annual turnover of more than 1 billion euros.

“Our traditional core business is regional newspapers, books and magazines,” said Klemens Berktold, Managing Director for the printing business at Funke Mediengruppe, during WAN-IFRA’s World Printers Summit 2021.

“Like most publishing houses, we have a strategic focus on the digital transformation of our business models,” he said. “So we are growing in the areas of epapers, e-commerce platforms, data driven advertising and others. However, the majority of our revenue still comes from paper based products – newspapers, magazines and books.”

So, how can a predominantly print business amend its practices to contribute to the goal of limiting global warming and neutralising carbon emissions? At Funke Mediengruppe, it has been by taking one step at a time.

Implementing efficient systems

As per Germany’s Climate Action Law, the target year to achieve carbon neutrality is 2045. In 2015, Funke introduced energy management systems in its printing plants according to DIN ISO 50001 standards. In 2020, it was expanded to environmental management systems as per DIN ISO 140001 standards.

Berktold said these systems have created transparency.

“We can now focus systematically on measures to reduce energy consumption and emissions,” he said.

The company’s presses in Essen and Hagen were also the first newspaper printing plants to receive the Blauer Engel certification for their printing products in 2018. Blauer Engel is an ecolabel of high standards awarded by the German government to  environmentally-friendly products and services.

In 2021, the publishing house installed carbon dioxide calculators in its printing plants. Berktold said this calculator helps to determine the carbon footprint for individual print orders.

“Starting next year we will operate our printing plants with green electricity. This measure will further reduce our carbon footprint,” he said.

“We are currently working in cooperation with Climate Partner to offer CO2-neutral printing service as an option starting from 2022. Later we will make it obligatory in some segments,” he added.

Impact and findings

As a result of its efforts, the publisher has been able to bring down the CO2 emissions at its printing plants since 2014.

Funke Mediengruppe has reduced its annual emissions from more than 21,000 tons in 2014 to less than 8,000 tons in 2021. An even greater reduction to around 200 tons is estimated for 2022, thanks to the planned switch to green electricity next year.

Berktold also showed an example of how the installation of carbon calculator has helped to bring in more transparency around the carbon emission figures. Thanks to the calculator, the company estimated that printing 35,000 copies of a 10-page publication left a carbon footprint of 1,673 kilogram.

This includes the emissions caused by production as well as procurement of materials such as paper, ink, printing plates and chemicals. Also included were emissions caused by the printing process and the logistics.

“The key finding – from my point of view an eye opener – was that in this example almost 90 percent of the carbon dioxide footprint was due to materials used. And they are in particular to paper procurement,” Berktold said.

This means that to achieve the goal of neutrality, a climate neutral supply chain is imperative. This leaves publishers with two options – procure materials produced in a climate neutral way or compensate emissions through other means to offset the equivalent amount of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

“As far as I know, it is not realistic to produce climate-neutral paper in the short to medium term in the quantity we need. That’s why we have to, at least for a transitional period, rely on climate protection projects for CO2 compensation,” he said.

However, Berktold noted that clarity was still required on several fronts. For example, can climate neutrality of newspapers be achieved through compensation projects or is that just greenwashing?

“The transformation of the value chain towards climate neutrality is an enormous and new task for our company. We are in the middle of the process,” he said.

Source – https://wan-ifra.org/2021/11/how-germanys-funke-mediengruppe-is-taking-proactive-steps-towards-carbon-neutral-printing/

Written by – Elizabeth Shilpa

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