Sustainability is not only a catchphrase that companies offer to consumers or suppliers to indicate concern for the environment. It is a real issue that all businesses should practice to help control waste and reduce their carbon footprint. Creating and adhering to formal sustainability policies is more than just a responsible approach to managing pollution or moving to renewable energy sources – it’s good for business.

With a documented sustainability strategy, employees are engaged to identify and eliminate waste, while suppliers and consumers relate to your business as being dedicated to preserving the environment. How do you achieve a sustainable competitive advantage, and how do you evaluate your strategy against the competition?

What Is Sustainability?

Creating a strategic sustainability policy means a concerted focus on several aspects of your business:

  • Ensuring that your business does not harm the environment or the health of employees or other life
  • Eliminating waste wherever possible to avoid contamination, pollutants, or unnecessary energy consumption
  • Responsible use of natural resources to preserve the environment for future generations
  • Avoiding or eliminating impact on climate change

Sustainability essentially calls for a business to protect our citizens and planet as responsible stewards. Each of these criteria must be considered in developing a viable sustainability strategy.

Assessing Your Sustainability Strategies

Developing a strategy for sustainability is only the start. Certainly, it’s critical to have a commitment to the initiatives that have been identified as part of your overall policy, but it’s just as important to periodically assess the strategy to ensure relevance and adherence to the policies. How do you assess your strategy and its impact on the environment and your business?


Are employees engaged with the initiatives and policies, or do they just give lip service to certain aspects of the efforts? If there is no excitement or positive response being generated, it’s a sign that there are opportunities for refinement in focus.

Measure KPIs

Set meaningful and achievable goals for any reduction targets, such as paper use, electric power consumption, etc. Measure your sustainability results over several months, compared to several months before the initiatives. These are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will offer definitive results of your initiatives.

Generating positive results will enhance employee commitment and create more active participation. This is also excellent data for news releases and internal corporate communications.

Continued Improvement

Where successes can be celebrated, use them as incentives to shoot for even higher goals. As an example, if you can achieve a 10% reduction in printing costs through reduced use of paper and supplies, set a new target of 20%. Where goals are missed, work to identify the reasons for the failures, and solicit new ideas or methods for meeting them in the next measurement cycle.

Make it everyone’s job to seek out new areas for improvement. Initiatives can be found in every department or function.

Publicize your sustainability efforts and successes. Emphasize your commitment to the environment and make your employees the ambassadors of your company’s dedication.

Focus on Waste

There are many opportunities to reduce waste in any business. Some are more visible and direct than others, but there are several areas where businesses create the most waste, presenting opportunities for improvement.

Energy Consumption

Offices have many devices and systems that consume high amounts of electricity. Office machines such as printers, copiers, scanners, and computers are enormous drains on power. Lighting and air conditioning are other factors. There are many ways to reduce office power use:

  • Turn off or remove outdated, unused equipment
  • Communicate the effectiveness of turning off lights, and consider motion-sensitive lighting that turns off when rooms remain unoccupied
  • Replace single-use devices such as scanners and copiers with energy-efficient, multifunction devices
  • Consider solar power which is practical for long-term savings


Printing is a significant expense for nearly every business. Sustainability strategies should include reducing print volumes:

  • Implement technology solutions (digitizing documents, document management, etc.)
  • Conduct a thorough review of printed documents, including distribution, copies, filing and storage, and pure volume
  • Better management of printers or consolidation of devices is an effective strategy for many companies

Eliminating unnecessary printing and implementing policies that reduce copies offers the extra benefit of reduced filing and storage requirements.

Competing with Sustainability

Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises (DME) supplies businesses of all sizes and industries with technology that helps them achieve a sustainable competitive advantage:

  • In-depth printing analysis to identify waste and opportunities for cost savings
  • Managed print services that improve productivity and reduce demand on internal technical resources
  • Printer management that replaces outdated and single-use equipment with energy-efficient multifunction devices
  • Document management that replaces paper with digitized documents that are easily shared and distributed electronically – without paper

DME printing professionals will analyze your printing environment and provide technology solutions that complement your sustainability strategy for a true competitive advantage. Contact the printing professionals at DME for more details.