Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Toshiba's No-Print Day As Popular As a Turd in the Punchbowl

Update: Toshiba pulled the plug on its campaign. See 9 Lessons from Toshiba's No-Print Day Debacle for the full story.
In the last three days, it seems, nearly every leading commentator on the U.S. printing industry has spoken out against Toshiba’s ill-conceived National No-Print Day.

Words like “boycott”, “hypocrites,” and “what were they thinking?” keep popping up in various articles, comments, LinkedIn discussions, and tweets about the giant corporation’s clumsy campaign. “Toshiba’s Hatchet Job” was the headline on Richard Romano’s Going Green blog for, which analyzed Dead Tree Edition's June 10 article, 10 Questions About Toshiba's No-Print Day.

“Some lunatic PR person evidently convinced Toshiba head honchos that this insane, made-up event would bring them public praise. Ha! it backfired badly!” said Margie Dana, founder of Print Buyers International, author and Printing Impressions columnist.

“Doesn’t Toshiba manufacture print production machines?” wrote Heidi Tolliver-Walker of The Digital Nirvana. “This would almost be comical if Toshiba weren’t embarking upon a national ad campaign to promote the idea.”

“I declare 10/23 is ALSO National Toss Your Toshiba Day,” commented Deborah Corn, chief operations officer of PrintMediaCentr and founder of the 37,000+-member Print Production Professionals group on LinkedIn.

"Wonder how many printers have Toshiba equipment. Might be time to turn in your lease," Dr. Joe ( economist Joe Webb), tweeted today. Yesterday's gem of a tweet: "Toshiba? 'This situation requires a really futile&stupid gesture be done on somebody's part! We're just the guys 2 do it'- Animal House".

“Printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint—all other media require energy every time they are viewed. Electronic devices, which Toshiba produces, for example, require the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, as well as the use of plastics, hydrocarbon solvents, and other non-renewable resources,” pointed out Michael Makin, President and CEO of Printing Industries of America. “Moreover 50–80 percent of electronic waste collected for recycling is shipped overseas and is often unsafely dismantled. For Toshiba to call for such a ban on printing is hypocritical to say the least.”

“Overall, besides some hefty greenwashing it sounds to me like they are shooting themselves in the foot,” wrote Sabine Lenz, founder of PaperSpecs and a vocal proponent of using environmentally friendly paper. “Exhibiting at DRUPA but badmouthing paper? Which brings up the question, should Starbucks give the coffee beans a day off?”

“Toshiba seems to have ignored the environmental impact of electronic communications. Just saying you are eliminating print and paper really does not mean you are necessarily helping the planet,” wrote the advocacy group Two Sides in challenging Toshiba’s claims. “Have Toshiba considered the life cycle of all their own products before professing expertise on others?”

Publishing industry pundit (and former press operator) BoSacks thinks the printing industry bears some of the blame: “Our industry has never put forth the full effort to explain itself. If it did, it did it as poorly as Toshiba. The public thinks we cut down virgin forests. That is the real issue here – tree farming, renewable industry. We are tree savers, not tree murderers.”

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