An informative discussion with the Government Printing Office
With a background in traditional print design I’ve always been interested in learning more about printing issues and developments in the industry. Last week, I attended “Keeping America Informed 3.0: A Dialogue with Robert C. Tapella,” sponsored by The Institute for Sustainable Communication(ISC), the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU-SCPS), and the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL). Robert Tapella, the 25th Public Printer of the United States and the CEO of Government Printing Office (GPO), provided interesting insights about how sustainability, evolving methods of communication, electronic media, and digital printing are changing the future of communication at the GPO and across the world.
The GPO is one of the biggest enterprises in the country. It has one of the largest printing plants in the world, 2,250 employees, and an annual revenue of $1 billion. It also purchases an outstanding 31 million pounds of paper every year. The sheer size of this business alone provokes many questions about green practices, printing methods, and the state of the printing industry.
Not only is the GPO involved in sustainable initiatives, it’s leading by example. Tapella has undertaken an ambitious initiative to drive sustainability into the core of the GPO because it’s necessary for business growth and because the printing industry needs to change. “Our industry lags behind other industries in metrics, standard operating procedures, and we have long been proud of being craftsmen and artists as opposed to precision manufacturers,” said Tapella. In addition, consumers are looking for environmentally smart advancements – recycled paper, vegetable-based ink, and energy conservation – and their needs drive business decisions.
The GPO is slowly trying to get into triple bottom-line accounting. They have rolled out 5S to reduce waste and improve efficiency. There are now zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the solvents, they use a minimum of 30% post-consumer waste paper, vegetable-based inks (in most cases except security documents), and green cleaning materials. They’re putting a new “green” roof on the factory to help the equipment use less energy. The roof has a guarantee that’s twice as long as a standard roof. It costs 5% more, but lasts twice as long. The decisions are business-smart and they also help to increase morale and attract new employees.
What does Tapella look for in new graduates coming to work at the GPO? The ability to “Think, Communicate and Execute.” Tapella, a graduate of CalPoly, doesn’t care which program or what school students go to and he stresses the importance of diversity because each school teaches the students to look at problems in a slightly different way and ask a different set of questions. It’s all about collaboration, problem solving, and building a better future for the industry. Because the need for printing isn’t going away anytime soon, it’s just evolving.
See the full ustream at: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7961976