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Seacourt: a greenprint for the future

Perhaps surprisingly, the printing industry is among the most polluting in the world, being ranked alongside mining, nuclear and oil. But one printing company recognised that the industry was ripe for change, with huge potential for positive ecological impact. Here’s how Seacourt have built their vision for a green future and redefined the printing industry in the process.

The eco-trajectory of Seacourt has been hard to ignore. Since starting in the 1940s, the family business has grown to be one of three leading environmental printers in the world, winning three coveted Queen’s Awards for Sustainable Development in the process.

Despite the resounding eco-successes of the business, sustainability wasn’t the initial goal of the 70-year-old company; the decision to commit to evolution and adaptation was made just 20 years ago. Since then, environmental sustainability has been built into the core of the business, making Seacourt a pioneer of positive change in the industry.

Their eco aspirations are now the DNA of the business and are clear throughout their Oxfordshire headquarters. The first thing you’ll notice on arriving at their

Seacourt MD Gareth Dinnage with their two EMAS awards

production line, for example, is the noise – or, more precisely, the lack of it. Their waterless and chemical-free printing machines use LED lights to dry publications. This reduces water and energy usage, while also transforming the printing process from the noisy and dirty industry it once was.

There’s also a conspicuous absence of waste bins on the factory floor; Seacourt have reached the remarkable achievement of being, since 2009, the world’s first zero-waste printers. Any waste is recycled, reused or, in the case of food waste, sent to one of the four wormeries they have in their attic ,leaving nothing for landfill.

The list of green achievements goes on: the car park is full of electric vehicle charging points; they visit suppliers across Europe to help them reduce their impact on the planet; and they moved to 100% renewable energy in 2003.

The measures and technologies introduced by Seacourt help prevent a huge amount of toxic printing waste from impacting the environment. But as well as what the business creates, MD Gareth Dinnage is also mindful of the resources they’re using. He believes that the natural cost of business activity is an essential consideration of any business model.

The results are impressive. Not only is the carbon footprint of the business likely lower than your house, but earlier this year ClimateCare accredited Seacourt as

Feeding the wormery in the factory

‘Beyond Carbon Neutral’ after they offset their entire operational footprint, plus an extra 10%. Not only have Gareth and his team mitigated the impact of their printing work, they’ve managed to create a net positive, giving back more than they take away.

Seacourt’s journey to environmental sustainability hasn’t been a simple or rapid one; it has required innovation and creativity at every step. When the decision was made to switch to a waterless printing system, they struggled to find anyone who was prepared to build it for them. Nobody could understand why such technology would be wanted. Eventually, they managed to source a Japanese manufacturer who was willing to make this step with them.

Their perseverance and unflinching commitment has safeguarded the sustainability of the business, while also providing a blueprint for other organisations to aspire to.

It was this commitment to positive change that led to Triodos Bank choosing Seacourt to print their bi-annual customer magazine, The Colour of Money. We constantly strive to assess the impact and implications of all of our business activities, even those that take place behind the scenes. Similarly, as Gareth points out, choosing an ethical bank was another necessary step towards their green vision: “Seacourt chose to bank with Triodos as it shares its values and commitment to sustainability”.

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