Features Environment Opinion
Five takeaways from Canopy’s 2019 Blueline Ranking

January 6, 2020
By Neva Murtha, Canopy

Image: Getty/RomoloTavani

Studies have consistently shown that the highest carbon footprint of a printed product – like a magazine and or newspaper – comes from the paper these materials are printed on. Since 2015, Canopy has been helping print customers mitigate against this by providing a ranking of the environmental performance of North America’s top printers.

The Blueline Ranking has become an essential resource to companies wishing to meet their Scope 3 targets and broader sustainability goals. In fact, it was awarded Gold in its inaugural year for Most Environmentally Progressive Printing Service by PrintAction.

Over the four years since its inception, the Blueline Ranking has evolved and improved each year. Here are five takeaways from this year’s ranking:


• Next-generation solutions

Circular economy is increasingly on the tip of everyone’s tongues. The top five printers in this year’s Blueline Ranking are pushing green innovation to another level by supporting the development of next-generation solutions in North America. These are inputs like agricultural residue and wheat straw papers. With wheat straw pulp carrying half the ecological footprint of conventional wood fibre, these next-generation papers will help reduce the impact sourcing packaging and paper on the world’s forests and natural systems.

• Packaging

Canopy recently launched Pack4Good, a new campaign that aims to reduce packaging’s impact on high carbon and species rich forest ecosystems. For the first year, packaging is included in this year’s Blueline. An estimated three billion trees go into the packaging supply chain each year, and that number is projected to grow as a result of the booming e-commerce business and a shift away from plastics. Pack4Good works to ensure this won’t drive deforestation or increase forest degradation as we help brands and packaging producers develop smarter packaging design, as well as alternatives that diversify the fibre basket. Printers and their clients will be looking to find ways to source for packaging more sustainably, and Pack4Good is, well, a good place to start.

• A complete toolkit

The Blueline Ranking works in tandem with other Canopy-created tools to give printers and their customers the analysis they need to make more informed sustainability choices as well as options to be able to source paper more sustainably.

  • ForestMapper is an interactive map of the world’s ancient and endangered forests designed to help companies identify high-value forests and sourcing risks. It is endorsed by over 50 brands and companies. Many of the printers assessed in this year’s Blueline are now using it to assess risk in their supply chain.
  • Ecopaper Database is a comprehensive list of the most eco-friendly papers available in the global market, and who produces them – making it easy to find just the right eco-paper or packaging for the job at hand.

• Climate Goals

‘Climate’ should be the word of the year, as the climate crisis made world news in 2019 as never before. Companies large and small are looking for innovative and accessible ways to lessen their impact on global climate instability. Scientists identify forests as 30 percent of the climate solution and are calling for the protection of 30 percent of the world’s most important intact forests by 2030 as we strive to keep Earth stable. Printers can provide that extra level of service and attention to their clients by helping them meet their goals with lower carbon options like recycled and next-generation papers and packaging.

• Improving your score

The good news is that there are a myriad of ways printers can improve their standing in the Blueline Ranking. This year saw a number of printers move significantly up the ranks and improving their overall scores and ink-drop positioning. Printers can develop leading paper procurement policies. They can also work with Canopy to help advance forest conservation initiatives, as well as shift their supply chain to be more sustainable, and work to enhance their public reporting.

If you hadn’t heard, the top three printers on the 2019 Blueline Ranking are The Printing House (TPH), Hemlock Printers, and Mitchell Press respectively. These companies scored coveted ‘dark green ink drops’ and distinguished themselves in 2019 by:

  • Requesting suppliers provide forest of origin information to assess the risk of having ancient and endangered forests in their supply chain;
  • Asking at least one mill partner to test paper made from North American sourced agricultural residue fibre; and
  • Writing to government decision makers to encourage additional conservation and protected areas in a priority landscape in Canada’s Boreal Forest.

Below is the list of Canadian printing companies featured in the 2019 Blueline Ranking and their respective position:

1. The Printing House (TPH)
2. Hemlock Printers
3. Mitchell Press
4. TC Transcontinental Printing
6. Metropolitan Fine Printers
8. Marquis Book Printing
9. Friesens
11. The Lowe-Martin Group
16. RR Donnelley
17. St. Joseph Communications
19. Vistaprint (a Cimpress business)