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For the last 20 years, Danish graphic companies have focused on social, environmental and working environment conditions in the industry.

A large number of companies have established and implemented systems and eco-labelling schemes to ensure satisfactory conditions throughout the graphic supply chain.

With more than 134,000 companies, the European graphic industry makes a large contribution to the European economy. Of these companies, more than 95% consists of small and medium-sized companies supplying printed as well as electronic media products, including books, magazines, advertisements, labels, posters, packaging and Internet solutions in addition to services relating to distribution and logistics.

A large part of the production takes place on Danish soil, but graphic production is also outsourced to other countries, including countries in the third world. This places demands on the companies' CSR policies to ensure that production takes place under acceptable conditions.

The combination of strategic choices of eco-labels, management systems and agreements between employers' associations and unions has made Danish graphic companies leaders in the CSR field.

Management systems supporting the companies' CSR profile and ensuring sustainable business procedures are very common in the industry. This mainly applies to ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environmental management) and OHSAS 18001 (health and safety), but some companies have already chosen to implement the new ISO 26000 CSR standard as well.

The Graphic Association of Denmark and The Labour Union HK/Private have begun working on the development of a CSR code based on the ten principles of the UN Global Compact. The code will establish a framework for a CSR practice for dealing with customers and suppliers in connection with the production of graphical products and services, nationally as well as internationally.

The industry has a large range of options for labelling of graphic products. The Nordic Ecolabel is the most common eco-label, and more than 80% of all printed matter produced is supplied by printing houses with the Swan label. To this should be added the growing interest in the market for labelling schemes such as FSC/PEFC providing a guarantee for responsibility and documentation for traceability, which has led to more than 50 certified companies in Denmark.

In the climate area, the Graphic Association of Denmark has developed a tool enabling graphic companies to calculate the climate load of both the company and the printed matter of the individual customer. The tool is part of the joint European initiative called ClimateCalc. A climate label is also available to the customer, verifying the correctness of the climate calculation while branding the customer's climate-conscious choice of supplier.

World view on CSR and printing

The global CSR challenges of the graphic industry relate to both the pre-printing component and the printing itself. In terms of the pre-printing component, it is quick and easy to send files to a third world country, where the files can be processed and returned. As this component does not involve the use of dangerous machinery, heavy lifts or other physical challenges, there is a risk that health and safety conditions can be underestimated. In the printing process, the focus is on the environment and health and safety. In terms of the environment, the resource consumption, including paper and CO2 emissions, are of special concern. Challenges relating to health and safety include working conditions and human rights issues in third world countries.