Print works

Tunbridge Wells Business Magazine talks to Kevin Steele, Managing Director of FOX, printers of this publication along with many others including those for Trailfinders, Mercedez-Benz and IKEA, about the company’s eco-conscious approach and why it’s their mission to reverse the negative narrative around the print industry being bad for the environment

It’s fair to say that printing – be it newspapers, magazines or flyers – has something of a negative reputation. Why? Because a lot of people believe that forests are being destroyed to make paper which of course helps, print all of the above. 

But did you know that enormous efforts are now being made in the printing industry to protect endangered forests and the environment as a whole? 

FOX, a Tunbridge Wells-based company specialising in print, direct mail and distribution for the likes of Trailfinders, Mercedez-Benz and IKEA – and also this publication – is one of the many companies in the printing industry who are ensuring their approach is as eco-conscious as possible. 

“Being environmentally friendly is something we’ve always been really passionate about,” explains the company’s Managing Director Kevin Steele.

“We’re always committed to doing better for the planet. We have always held the ISO14001 Environmental Management System and Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certifications, and consistently push and promote ethically sourced carbon-balanced paper, sustainability and environmentally friendly options. 

“We know our industry has done and continues to do so much to support and protect the environment but what we see in the big wheel of manufacturing never seems to be advertised or promoted to consumers.”

He says that unfortunately, all they get to hear about is the negative news about global warming and increased C02 emissions. 

“Because paper is made from wood, and wood comes from trees, paper and printed paper products are automatically seen as a negative. This is despite it being the world’s most sustainable product, which is produced from managed forests that do not damage the eco-system.”

Kevin states the perception is that print and direct mail are bad because the industry is seen to be ‘cutting down trees’.

“However most consumers are unaware of the extraordinary efforts made by everyone involved in our industry to protect forests and the environment. And there is overwhelming evidence to back this up.”

Kevin says there are huge benefits to supporting the print and mail industry and that people shouldn’t think using ‘recycled paper’ or ‘no paper’ is the only way forward. 

“Recycling is a good thing. But there are other ways to create a sustainable environmentally friendly paper model. Wood, which makes paper, is a renewable resource so we can use trees that make high-quality paper without cutting down old-growth forests that are so important to our environment.” 

This can be done using virgin fibres that have been sustainably sourced, controlled, managed and certified by the FSC. 

“We should use more FSC certified wood, paper and packaging as this encourages more sustainable tree plantations,” adds Kevin.

Even the renowned broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough agrees with this line of thinking.  In a video on FOX’s website he explains how there is a ‘simple solution’ to restoring the planet’s forests – and that’s growing trees like you would any other type of crop. 

“Wood is an extraordinary renewable resource. And taking it from well-managed sources benefits both the forest and the planet.”

But, explains Sir David, on their own natural forests can’t provide all the wood which is why we need to farm trees, just like we do other crops, and eventually create a new generation of plantations.  

“Around the world there are an estimated 2billion acres of degraded land where forests could be restored. That’s twice the size of Europe,” he says.

Trees can be planted in areas that do not interfere with our natural forests and wildlife, thus allowing them to rewild, using more sustainable wood leads to more tree plantations, which reduces carbon and reduces pollution.

Kevin adds: “We know how important it is to look after the world, so being eco-friendly and environmentally conscious is a big part of our ethos.”

He explains FOX uses carbon neutral printing presses and professional, reliable waste management companies so plastic drums become pipes, aluminium plates become car parts, wooden pallets are turned into chipboard and printing blankets become safety surfaces for children’s play areas. 

“We are accredited by some of the world’s biggest environmental bodies and are always seeking new ways to do more good.”

FSC certified suppliers like FOX are audited by approved organisations including the Soil Association who inspect forests and supply chains, with UK FSC forests managed by organisations such as Forestry England. 

“FSC’s mission is to promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests, so holding the FSC logo on your product shows that you are committed to your environmental objectives,” continues Kevin.

He reveals that according to the World Land Trust, paper is now regarded as one of the world’s great sustainable products as it’s biodegradable, recyclable and made from a renewable raw material.

“There are many reasons that paper is good for the environment and for the economy. We should use more FSC certified wood, paper and packaging as ultimately this encourages more sustainable tree plantations.”

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