Headquartered in Burnaby, B.C., Hemlock Printers has built a name for itself as a leader in quality sustainable printing.
It has come a long way since it opened up its first 600-sq.-ft. storefront producing one- and two-colour stationary in 1968. In 2004, the company created its first sustainability committee and began driving new internal initiatives and forging innovative partnerships with mills and NGOs. Sustainability is a key word at the company, which has grown to several locations across B.C., as well as the Seattle and San Francisco Bay Area. To learn a little more about Hemlock’s environmental initiatives, we touched base with Amanda Chor, sustainability coordinator at Hemlock Printers, who filled us in on her role at the company.
Can you tell me more about your role as sustainability coordinator?
AC: Every day is full of variety. In a nutshell, I manage the environmental programs, projects and initiatives here at Hemlock. I have several responsibilities that I hold. The first one is that I lead the sustainability committee known as the “Think Tank.” It’s an internal committee that meets on a monthly basis, and I chair this meeting to work on various waste reduction initiatives with about 13 staff members from all different departments. Externally, I build and maintain relations with environmental third parties and non-profit organizations. This includes the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Green-e, Offsetters, Environmental Paper Network and Canopy Planet.
One of our major efforts is to expand our ZERO carbon neutral program, which gives the opportunity to our clients to make their print projects carbon neutral. I also do a lot of tracking and measuring of our key sustainability metrics. At Hemlock, we operate carbon neutral, so I analyze our metrics and measure the amount of emissions offset by Hemlock and the ZERO program.
I also support marketing and communications. When we’re sharing news about our operations, or launching new environmental products, it’s really important for me to collaborate with the marketing manager and frame sustainability stories with insightful data points to share with all of our stakeholders.
While a large part of my role regards sustainable operations, I am also a representative on behalf of Hemlock conveying our core values about the environment as a speaker or a company representative.
What attracted you to your role at Hemlock?
AC: I definitely was attracted to Hemlock because of the role. The reason I wanted to pursue a sustainability role was because I graduated from Simon Fraser University in the Bachelor of Business Administration Program, and it had a Corporate Environment and Social Sustainability Certificate to pair with my BBA. To become certified, we complete a select number of courses and that’s where I met my current manager and president of Hemlock, Richard Kouwenhoven. I met Richard during my sustainable operations course in my final semester of school. What attracted me to the role was Hemlock’s genuine commitment to the environment and the community at large.
What are the biggest challenges for you to overcome in your role to help ensure successful sustainable operations at Hemlock?
AC: I would say the biggest challenge, and also the greatest opportunity, when it comes to sustainable operations, is that it requires a lot of collaboration from others. My job would be easy if it only required me to sit at my desk and roll out all these initiatives on my own, but that’s definitely not the case. When you think about the paper and the other materials that we purchase, the equipment, the investments in the way we manage our waste, these involve multiple stakeholders both within Hemlock and beyond. A high level of commitment and collaboration is required from internal and external stakeholders to green our operations. This includes interacting with staff members, leadership, business partners, suppliers, clients and non-profits. It’s important that everyone is held accountable given our current environmental conditions that our supply chain has and that our world faces right now. It might take a lot of time and effort to align so many players, internally and externally, but it can be done and those successes are incredibly rewarding.
How do you see the state of Canada’s print industry from a sustainability aspect right now?
AC: When we’re taking a look at Canada’s print industry from a sustainability aspect, I think it’s really important to acknowledge there’s a lots of room for improvement on a company and industry-wide scale, given the current state of our world and the environment. We feel a really strong accountability to help safeguard our forests through the business decisions that we make. Without a doubt, sustainability is intertwined with our overall strategy and this provides us with a competitive advantage.
This feature was originally published in the April 2020 issue of PrintAction, now available online.
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