Impact Digital started up its presses in 2003 and quickly established itself as a leader in the use of recycled paper. When the company built new premises in 2007, General Manager Tony Parker took it even further down the path to sustainability. “It wasn’t a financial decision,” he says. “It just seemed like a good idea.”

And what an idea it was.

The 126 solar panels that cover Impact Digital’s roof generate enough electricity to power four average homes. The panels also shade the roof, reducing heat infiltration in the summer and thereby reducing cooling costs. Hot water is heated by the sun and rainwater is used for toilet flushing. The digital printing technology itself avoids the use of over 12,000 litres of water a year and customers can choose paper derived from Forest Stewardship Council-accredited sources. More typically customers opt for stock from Impact’s range of none-FSC papers, but with most of this being recycled it’s still a good choice.

Impact Digital sets a broad boundary for its carbon emissions. Amongst other things, the business accounts for emissions arising from all electricity purchased from the grid, its own fleet of vehicles, the production and transport of raw materials and deliveries to customers. The total emissions are then offset through Carbon Conscious, a step that has seen over 8,400 Mallee Eucalypt trees planted.

Advantages in owning the building

Incorporating solar power into the drive to be green was really only possible because the business owns the building. “We wouldn’t have made that sort of investment on leased premises,” says Tony. “As it was, a lot of people recommended against installing solar power, but installing panels at the time of construction meant that the cost wasn’t so noticeable.”

It’s worth noting that when the system was installed in 2007, solar panels cost a lot more than they do today, and there were no subsidies for this size of system.

A boost for business?

Impact Digital is proud of its green credentials, but whether or not this contributes to the bottom line is a moot point. “The feedback I receive from customers is all about the quality and quick turnaround,” says QA Manager Gaynor Alder.

Closer to the sales end of the transaction, Heath Nankervis has a different view. “For many customers being green is definitely a factor in their decision to print with us,” he says.

Low staff turnover

Impact Digital’s concern for the environment is mirrored in its approach to employees. There are 26 people on the payroll and staff turnover is very low. Some appreciate the environmental initiatives embraced by the company, but the pleasant working environment and other benefits are perhaps bigger incentives to stay with Impact.

Even more power?

Apart for the initiatives already mentioned, the building is lit with energy-efficient fluorescent tubes, and fresh air ventilation reduces the demand on cooling systems. Looking at the whole package, it’s hard to see what else Impact Digital can do to further reduce its environmental footprint. Tony still sees room for improvement, however. “Solar panels are becoming more efficient. One option is to replace the existing panels so we can produce more power from the same area of roof.”

The normal response to operating in a highly competitive industry is to cut costs to the bone. Yet Impact Digital shows that a business can make a substantial investment in minimising its environmental impact and still succeed.

This raises a very important question. If Impact Digital can do it, why can’t every other business?

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