Entrenched perceptions about the sustainability of the print industry have been challenged by Novus Holdings’ diversification and a number of their initiatives namely recycling, energy efficiency, waste reduction and minimising emissions through technology.

Many of these initiatives support the far-reaching commitments made by South Africa at COP21. These require the country to curtail the growth in its emissions and for them to peak, plateau and decline between 2025 and 2030.

With South Africa being the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Africa, the only way to meet the COP21 targets will be for companies such a Novus Holdings to carry through with its own sustainability plans, especially in the area of technology and capacity-building.

“Environmental transformation is an area where we are collaborating to improve sustainability in the print industry. In particular, incentivising the improvement of the environmental performance of our suppliers, encouraging the awareness of employees, measuring and reviewing our objectives is key,” adds Peter Metcalfe, Group Executive of Sales and Marketing at Novus Holdings, previously known as the Paarl Media Group.

Driving a cleaner and greener culture

Printing is a complex industrial and technological enterprise, essential to the functioning of a modern society.

Paarl Coldset, which forms part of the Group’s printing division is committed to recycling chemical waste and has recently launched a competition for full-time BTech Project Management students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) to come up with ways to re-use Paarl Coldset’s waste through up-cycling.

The project invites students to combine their conceptual and contextual knowledge. Students will be encouraged to put their entrepreneurial skills into practise, as they must develop innovative solutions that are feasible. The project will be concluded in November 2016. Cash prizes will be awarded to the teams that come first, second and third.

Utilising waste paper

Diversification into the tissue market is a key component of Novus Holdings’ sustainability plan: by taking advantage of waste paper, currently produced by the printing operations and using it in the production of tissue paper.

Even under depressed economic conditions, the South African market for tissue is growing at eight to ten percent, as the product is less constrained in its growth potential than other commodities.

Novus Holdings moved into tissue with the acquisition of Correll Tissue in June 2014. While the expected growth of the tissue division will only be visible in the ensuing financial years, the Group is investing in infrastructure to facilitate the expansion of production capacity. An additional tissue mill imported from Italy is set to triple production capacity, allowing the division to grow its market share from five to ten percent.

Leading by example 

It is becoming more imperative for companies to address climate change as part of their core corporate strategy. Disregarding the environmental effect of a business, not only affects consumers, employees, and the surrounding community, but also the entire industry itself.

Other environmentally sustainable practices implemented by Novus Holdings:

  • Reduction in energy use and emissions ensuring air is free of odour, visual smoke and pollutants through the installation of centralized Regenerative Thermal Oxisiders (RTO’s) on all web presses;
  • Adopting alcohol free printing process on all web offset presses;
  • Lowering resource use in terms of ink and water;
  • Lowering use of chemicals and the production of waste;
  • Using mineral oil and volatile organic compound-free offset ink on sheet fed presses;
  • Recycling copper skins from the engraved cylinders used for gravure printing;
  • Recovering the Toluene thinning agent for re-use;
  • Creating a neutral carbon footprint in developing steam for its gravure press at the flagship Paarl Media Cape plant through its Biomass Boiler. While reducing the plant’s electricity consumption, the Biomass Boiler project also assists in creating jobs and benefits small enterprises through the harvesting of alien vegetation needed to fuel the boiler.

“Novus Holdings aims to continue its leadership in environmental practices as we recognise the impact of print production processes on natural resources. We also would like to encourage more businesses to find ways of lowering their energy consumption and drive environmental awareness together with sustainable business practices,” concludes Metcalfe.