Do businesses really buy green?

Put the planet before PR

Do businesses really buy green?

In recent years, the effect of half-hearted CSR programmes on customer opinion has thankfully dulled. Many business initiatives became artificial exercises in green washing – an easy opportunity for some good press, and a tick-box exercise for the PR department.

Under the old CSR playbook, planting trees and buying credits to offset carbon emissions would have been sufficient – but customers and investors are now asking, “What are you actually doing within your own business to reduce rather than offset carbon emissions?” 

Customers have high expectations of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), but do business people share their expectations? Epson surveyed businesses in Germany, France and the UK to find out.

One answer is green purchasing

Today, demonstrating a genuine commitment to CSR requires a more fundamental reassessment of how your business works.

Green purchasing policies is a fantastic indicator of how committed businesses are to sustainability, as they require careful thought and real intent to improve the business in question as well as the wider marketplace.

As major consumers themselves, companies can substantially increase demand for sustainable products and services (and therefore supply), if they demand them from their suppliers.

That is why the most responsible businesses develop ‘green purchasing policies’ which clearly establish the sustainability of a product as being on a par with price and performance in the buying decision.

Given our product range, we were particularly interested in getting market intelligence on how much sustainability performance plays a role when companies buy office electronics, like printers and projectors.

Only 25% of businesses have green purchasing guidelines

According to our survey, only a quarter of larger companies currently have green purchasing guidelines in place when investing in office equipment, and just 19% of all companies have guidelines they are obligated to follow.

Thankfully, while this is still a clear minority of companies, the trends in business opinion suggest more companies will establish green purchasing guidelines soon.

Our survey demonstrated that approximately three quarters of businesses believe that energy saving (78%), clean printing (72%) waste reduction (70%) and CO2 reduction (69%) are important challenges for them.

Energy efficiency increasingly affects buying decisions

While 78% of respondents considered energy efficiency was an important challenge for their business, it seems that many businesses are taking a long time to translate this recognition into formal green purchasing policies.

Informally, however, the benefits of energy efficiency do seem to play a growing role in the buying decision. For example, today only 12% of businesses across Germany, France and the UK consider a printer’s purchase price to be the most important factor in a buying decision. By contrast almost three times as many (34%) recognise that the ‘whole life-cycle cost’ of a printer is more important. Given the high energy prices in Europe, energy efficiency is a key component of lifecycle cost (alongside ink prices).

For businesses worried about whole lifecycle printing costs, we would strongly recommend investigating our WorkForce Pro RIPS range.

Green purchasing will leave you wanting more

As regular readers of this blog will know, Epson has made a huge commitment to reducing the CO2 emissions by 90% across the lifecycle of all our products by 2050. It’s not for PR either – since 2006, we’ve already cut CO2 emissions by almost 40%, waste emissions by almost 30%, and water use by 56%.

But we’re still a tech business operating in one of the most dynamic, innovative and competitive marketplaces in the world. Ensuring product quality and customer satisfaction is critical to our ongoing success.

As such, we also asked businesses to tell us whether they were satisfied by our compact, energy efficient printers.

While we’re always looking for improvement, we were pleased to hear that more than three quarters of customers are very or completely satisfied with our printer quality (80%), reliability (75%) and ease of use (81%).

Interestingly, despite the market leading eco-sustainability performance of many of our printers, our survey also found demand from businesses for even greater improvements. Compared to the previous questions, a smaller majority of businesses said that they were very or completely satisfied with the energy saving (78%), clean printing (69%), waste reduction (67%) and CO2 reduction (63%) of our printers.

Forget CSR, be sustainable

In today’s business landscape the terminology of ‘corporate social responsibility’ has all but vanished. Instead we talk about sustainability and the need to be economically, environmentally and societally sustainable.

Green purchasing, like green manufacturing, provides fantastic new opportunities for businesses to find new revenue streams and cost savings, as well as help protect our environment.

By collectively committing to green purchasing and manufacturing policies, businesses can rapidly change the whole marketplace, helping not just ourselves, but every individual to reduce their environmental footprint.

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