One of the biggest challenges facing the printing industry – or really any market for that matter – is the rising pressure from both consumers and government agencies to "go green," or adopt more efficient environmental policies.
According to market research firm Global Industry Analysts, the worldwide "green marketing market" is expected to reach $3.5 trillion by 2017, potentially aided by emerging initiatives such as California's renewable portfolio standard, which calls for achieving one-third of its energy from clean sources by 2020.
"Green marketing initiatives are finding [a] high level of acceptance among businesses with relatively tight marketing budgets," wrote GIA in a statement. "Internet is one of the most popular media for carrying out marketing of green messages, with print, television, mobile and direct mail methods emerging as other popular approaches."
GIA also claimed that a number of studies have found consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for green products or services, which may help provide much of the sector with some breathing room until it can become the more economically efficient market option.
Small businesses in the printing industry may want to consider adopting green practices themselves. Some changes may include improving recycling services, establishing green programs for consumers or buying from vendors with greener practices.