Wow. Hard to get the noggin around the fact that this is the 250th Verdigris environmental blog we’ve written. Over the last five years or so we have covered all manner of environmental matters relevant to the graphics industry. But has it made any difference to the market’s sustainability awareness? It’s no more than a vanity to say that it has, so far better to look at any scraps of evidence, but evidence of raised environmental awareness is impossible to attribute to these blogs.
Taking the long view can be difficult in business, but it’s especially hard when it comes to sustainability. It’s tempting to look only at one’s own interests, especially for the small and medium sized businesses that make up the bulk of the graphics industry. Most of us are content to let the major blue chip companies take the wheel on environmental impact mitigation.
It is one of the most useful and yet annoying forms of packaging we have. Its useful because it works with all sorts of content types, from clothing to soup. But it’s annoying because most people are confused as to whether a particular piece of flexible plastic packaging can be recycled or not. The secret codes and logos plastics carry mean little to the average consumer, so it’s hard to tell the desirable from the undesirable.
We’ve recently been working a lot on ISO 21331, the international standard for assessing the potential deinkability of print. This document is one of several standards under development within ISO to improve the environmental impact and accountability of graphics technology and print.
The job of a package is manifold and yet very simple. A package must protect contents from damage, and provide a barrier between what’s inside and what’s not inside. The contents must stay in the package at all costs and must not become corrupted or otherwise spoiled within it. Ideally the package should extend the shelf life of its contents and maintain its own integrity in terms of structure and appearance over time. The materials from which it is made should also be recyclable or biodegradeable. And it must also be possible to print on packaging surfaces in a way that minimises waste in the supply chain.