Green vibe at Multivista

Being sustainable is not only good business practice but is increasingly a crucial requirement for many customers. Karthik Narayan Ravi, director of Multivista Global Print Solutions, shares the book print firm’s journey thusfar

14 Jun 2023 | By Ramu Ramanathan

The man on a green mission: Karthik Narayan Ravi

Multivista’s green drive began in 2008. Be it: the factory building, the green landscaping, or the eco drive. But it’s been much more focused over the past four years. As Karthik Narayan Ravi, director of Multivista Global Print Solutions, says, we have joined the expanding group of well-known businesses establishing emission reduction goals in line with what climate science indicates is required. We are committed to developing a science-based emission reduction target within the timeframe and in accordance with the SBTi commitment’s criteria by signing it.”

Multivista Global is a family-owned business enterprise. The journey commenced in 1976. The group has been a super-specialist in book printing for the last 45 years. The third-generation family members currently manage the business. As Karthik Narayan Ravi says, “We have transformed with time, but the core value and ethics of doing business the right way, has always remained as the platform over which our businesses have been built over the years.”

Not mere lip service
As such, many businesses that had not really considered such initiatives before are now starting their sustainability journey. But for their efforts to be a success, paying lip service is not enough.

“Becoming a more sustainable business demands consistent effort and an appetite for progression. It is an ever-evolving journey, and the work is never done,” says PN Krishna, the sustainability manager at Multivista.

“Having said that, sustainable progress is not a nice-to-have, it is essential to the longevity of any business. From the raw materials your business uses and the energy it consumes, the people you employ, the communities you support – sustainability will continue to provide a stable platform for future growth.”

The book factory, which is located in Chennai, is powered by a team of 166. Krishna says, “We are a process-centric organisation. The top management places a lot of emphasis on quality. We also are committed towards employee satisfaction, and labour law adherence. In addition, we are an ethically compliant organisation certified by SEDEX. Plus, protecting the environment is a major priority.” Multivista’s power requirement is generated through wind turbines.

The facility in Chennai is committed to SBTi for its GHG reduction commitments plus
implementation of ISO 14001, FSC, SMETA certifications


Print friendly, and planet friendly
Earlier this year, Multivista Global was recognised with an Ecovadis bronze certificate.

That’s not all. The turnover has increased by 40% over the last two years. Proof that the green mission is reaping benefits.

In 2021, the group initiated a Stakeholder Engagement & Materiality Analysis to identify the most relevant material issues. Karthik Narayan Ravi, “We also have taken the GHG inventory in 2021, with the base year being 2019.” The inaugural Multivista Sustainability Report, with enhanced disclosures, encompassing strategic initiatives and KPIs, was published last year.

Karthik Narayan Ravi says, “We use renewable energy, work on the principles of a circular economy, plus electric vehicles for our employees.” He adds, “Basically, it means giving back more than it takes.

Chemistry used in its production is harmful to the environment. We are an FSC certified company, constantly engaging with customers to encourage usage of FSC materials.”

He says the main benefit of making his business as green as possible from the moment he took charge nearly 15 years ago “is that I feel happier doing what I’m doing, and I can sleep peacefully at night”.

“Everyone we deal with has to have the same principles and accreditations as we have. Minimum is ISO 14001, FSC, at least an environmental policy, and a sustainability policy,” he points out.

“The company ethos is that all our partners and suppliers are on board, and they do within our book business whatever is necessary. The environment comes first regardless of which job, material, or supply, even sourcing machinery parts.”

Some businesses have shied away from investing in sustainability due to the costs involved, both for themselves and also potentially to their customers.

Karthik concurs, “Cost is king, and it does cost more money to produce a book in this way. And that is something we share with the publisher although we try to price competitively.”

Karthik adds, “I believe that being sustainable will reap cost benefits in the medium and long-run term. The state government rates each company based on their carbon emission and have started to bring in a penalty for not adhering to the basic standards. An essential part of this journey includes an energy audit every year. These audits point out inefficiency in a plant’s energy consumption and recommend investments to mitigate the same. While they may seem like an investment initially, it will have medium and long-term benefits in reducing a plant’s energy cost.” Karthik says, “Ultimately, we should look at investing in sustainability just like a typical investment in any other assets like plant and machinery or employees.”

Nevertheless, he believes that “every SME or MSME business in India can do the right thing. If we can do it, so can others.”

Seven Multivista mantras
● First book printer to commit to SBTi to reduce 28% of GHG Emissions (Scope 1 & 2) by 2030
● From the base year of 2019 at 0%, Wind energy share supply has been increased to 81%
● Based on the energy audit, Team Multivista has replaced pneumatic compressors. This has resulted in energy savings
● Increase usage of FSC paper to 90% by 2024
● Identified and encourage use of compostable and recyclable shrink films for packing of books in shrink pack
● Elimination of plastic bottles at the Multivista factory. Plastic cups and PET bottles have been replaced with glass and metal bottles
● Multivista has supported the Madras SevaSadan school in building six classrooms

Renewable energy sources have powered Multivista for around 15 years, and have also had a raft of other green policies and certifications in place for many years. It includes a commitment to SBTi for its GHG reduction commitments plus the implementation of ISO 14001, FSC, and SMETA certifications.

The small things that matter
Karthik says, “And what we’re finding is that our publishers, authors and readers are saying - if I’m going to read a p-book, I might as well make sure it is sustainable and on message. Many big publishers are trying to go carbon neutral, so they want to pass that down the chain.”

He adds: “We’ve got an anti-plastic initiative; we try to ask or advise customers to move away from plastic where possible. For example, we had a lot of customers using plastic business card boxes and plastic tapes. We’ve entirely moved all customers over to paper tapes now.

“It’s alright us saying - we’re ISO 14001, and we’re FSC, and such - but we’re taking it to the next level where we’re trying to talk to customers, and when they give us the spec and maybe say they want it laminated, we ask them whether they do need it laminated, and [show them] the alternatives in aqueous varnish.”

Multivista is a part of the book chain project, which is a collaborative initiative run by Carnstone, involving publishers, print service providers and paper manufacturers. Being a part of a book chain project enables publishers to monitor the progress made by the printers on carbon emissions and various other sustainability initiatives undertaken by them.

Krishna says, “The main thing is awareness. We do this through show and tell.” The messaging should be clear. |This makes it simple for printers to communicate the benefits to their customers and, in turn, the customer to their consumers.

Karthik concurs, “Customers are increasingly requesting suppliers to submit their sustainability goals in the tenders. If suppliers in the print industry aren’t ahead of the curve, they can spend a considerable amount of time reacting to such requests and risk losing contracts.”

Waste rethink
One of the key projects at Multivista is raw material wastage and disposal. Krishna says, “Ultimately, it is all about the effective consumption and disposal of paper and paperboard.”

In real terms, this means to optimise the purchase process of paper and board through a made-to-order purchasing concept for 80% of purchases, Also investing in new technology along with accessories (inline spectrophotometer, automated make-ready processes, ink presetting) which help in reducing wastage by 1%.

Krishna says, “The project aims to use a minimum variety of ink. This results in higher productivity and reduction in waste.’ Another initiative is to collect residual wastage and dispose of the empty containers. This helps in effective ink consumption and wastage reduction.


Multivista specialises in manufacturing softcover and hardcover books with an emphasis on educational, medical and children books

In addition, the efficiency of the STP plant has been boosted. Krishna says, “This has enabled us to use more water effectively for gardening and tree plantation.” He points out, “We have a water meter that measures and monitors the water consumption. Also, we have installed piston-based taps to be provided to reduce water consumption. This has reduced the water consumption by 5%. Our  daily consumption is 9000-10,000 litres, and we recycle 98-99% of it by having upgraded our STP plant.”

Likewise, there has been an attempt to minimise energy through simple methods. For example, a replaced pneumatic air compressor with screw compressor that has resulted in a reduction of total energy consumed by 10%.

As Karthik says, “Presently, 81% of our total energy consumption is from renewable energy-wind. This is targeted to increase to 90% in the coming years.”

PN Krishna, the sustainability manager at Multivista

 Karthik says, all this helps our customers achieve their carbon reduction objectives by using as much scientific data as possible to provide the most accurate carbon emission calculations available.

He explains, “The world has changed; saying something is green, or it’s recycled, or even that it’s FSC, isn’t enough now.”

His advise, print companies should reduce their carbon footprint in the first instance.

“Carbon reduction is a complex subject and certainly isn’t about throwing money at the problem and offsetting. Baseline and reduce is the answer. If a business can afford to offset, that cash is better spent on renewable energy, electric vehicles, LED lighting or solar.”

“Demand for sustainable products is being driven from the simple fact that the planet is warming up and we have a climate crisis,” he says. “The world is coming together, and every business – large and small - that wants to decarbonise needs to sit up and listen, or they will not survive.”

Conclusion: No easy path to sustainability
One thing which is clear from Multivista’s green yatra is, it’s a long and laborious process. There are no shortcuts. Those looking for advice and support could consult experts like Ganeshkumar V. The plastics fraternity has an India Plastics Pact forum that looks to provide an industry-wide network and platform to work to support, sustain, and develop the industry. Paper and paperboard print need to get this done.

Meanwhile, some tips can be found in our box item.

The point is, there is no quick route to becoming a sustainable printer, and businesses need to be in it for the long haul. As Karthik concludes the industry, “One must begin the process. Even if it is a tiny baby step, the first step is a fantastic starting position.”

“Due to the tangible nature of print, it is relatively straightforward to measure, reduce and offset wider impacts, such as distribution and material use,” Karthik signs off.

10 Sustainable Tips from Ganeshkumar V
We asked Ganeshkumar V about various green initiatives already in place, which could help other book businesses just getting started on their sustainability journey. Here are some of the nuggets of advice:

● Look at the various sustainability certifications available. These provide you with a solid framework to guide your thinking and provide pointers for making environmental improvements.
● Consider what competitors as well as other types of businesses are doing; it’s easy to find information on programmes that a lot of organisations sign up to.
● Engage with expert, independent third parties to develop an honest and comprehensive sustainability audit, so you know your true starting point.
● Be transparent, honest, willing, and open to advice and criticism.
● A wider footprint assessment will help you identify parts of your supply chain that are responsible for a high amount of carbon and enable you to set credible targets. These could include upgrading your vehicles to electric models (for example, the team at Multivista does this), and setting targets for your supply chain impacts, such as choosing paper grades with a lower carbon footprint.
● Consider switching to a green energy tariff, where the energy supplier will match some or all of the electricity you use with renewable energy.
● Appoint a sustainability champion within your organisation. This should be somebody who will keep a close eye on what can be done, who will always push for further improvements, and will really champion the green agenda within your business. If your staff don’t know what’s happening, then customers aren’t going to find out.
● Including environmental requirements in your procurement practices is an easy way of driving the right behaviours internally.
● Focus on the things you can control and that will make a difference.
● And above all, do realise that true sustainability is not a marketing tactic, but an essential element of future trading.

Ganeshkumar V has 15+ years of experience in the environmental and sustainability domain, Pursuing doctorate in sustainable finance from Manipal University, Alumni of IIM Raipur & College of Engineering Guindy, plus expertise in sustainability strategy, Life Cycle Assessment, TCFD, ISO 14064, GHG, ISO 14067, GRI, IR, SASB, and OHSAS.