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We have significantly added to our sustainability credentials this summer, helping Nationwide Print vie for the title of the UK’s most environmentally-friendly printing business.

Remarkably, our energy-intensive printing operation now produces more energy than it uses; this is thanks to investments in solar panels, energy-efficient lighting and, most recently, external wall insulation.

Reducing our environmental impact has been a major priority for us over the past five years. With careful planning and bold investment decisions, we are now where we aspired to be; carbon neutral, energy efficient, and sustainable in our use of resources.

The latest improvements, which took place this summer, saw our 1970s production building (which is solid block construction and leaks heat) externally insulated and clad with cedar – improving both heat retention and appearance.

We have also invested in Dyson Airblade hand dryers, which are up to 79% more energy-efficient than other dryers or paper towels, and are considering the purchase of an electric vehicle for local distribution runs.

These improvements follow the replacement of all office lighting in 2015 with a modern LED lighting system, reducing energy usage by 75% and saving over four tonnes of CO2 every year. An additional 20kW of solar panels were also installed in 2015, adding to the existing 30kW array and helping Nationwide Print meet its energy requirements – with some left over.

Taken annually, we now produce more energy than we use, thanks to the extended solar array and the efficiency savings we have instigated. However, natural fluctuations mean that sometimes we still need energy from the grid, while at other times we sell it back. We are looking into solar energy storage systems, as we would be very keen to invest!

Here at Nationwide Print, sustainability is both an ethical and economic imperative. Responsible use of resources is part of our ethos, and it’s something all businesses should be accountable for. Plus, our clients – including St Austell Brewery, The Eden Project, and Fifteen Cornwall – factor it into their ethical procurement policies, so it helps to be in alignment with them.

Economically, we have already repaid our investment in the solar panels, and the outlay for the lighting will be paid off in two years. For an energy-intensive business, tackling these issues is an important part of our long term growth strategy.

Our commitment to sustainability contributed to Nationwide Print being named ‘SME of the Year’ at the PrintWeek Awards in 2014 – the most prestigious awards for the printing industry. This success spurred us on, and we redoubled our efforts to become fully carbon neutral. There can’t be many printing businesses out there that produce more energy than they use – it’s something we are very proud of.

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