Along with book printing, packaging is one of the few areas of print that is thriving. Calls for better waste management particularly of plastics and for recycling are getting louder, amid wider concerns over packaging’s overall environmental impact, particularly as it gets more complex.
Many graphic arts companies want to do their bit to help mitigate climate change. They might take it really seriously and be ISO 14001 (Environmental management systems) certified, or they might prefer to be a little looser in how they cut carbon and environmental impacts. Either way they are faced with working with other companies, and evaluating their sustainability claims in some sort of context.
Whatever the calculations of governments and citizens around the world, whatever our wishful thinking and convincing denials, we won’t be out of this for a long time. The corona virus and its devastating effects on our economies, businesses and lives is forcing people to rethink how their worlds function. For businesses, sustainability would appear to be taking a backseat to bigger problems of revenue generation and staffing levels.
The rising popularity of processless plates is set to get a boost. The International Standards Organisation (ISO) is working on a document that standardises the evaluation of processless plate characteristics. This will make it easier for customers to judge various performance criteria, enhancing the benefits these plates offer in terms of convenience, faster make-readies and reduced costs. There are fewer processing steps for processless plates, so they’re also better for the environment. Along with doing way with the chemistry necessary to develop a conventional printing plate, the emissions associated with offline plate processing also go away.
It’s quite amazing to see the amounts of litter dropped by people who claim to care about the environment. Packaging waste accounts for most of it and that might be one of the reasons why print gets singled out as being environmentally hostile. Printing companies know that this is unfair but still too few of them have bothered to get their own houses in order when it comes to sustainability messaging. Now, when much of the industry is in slow mode, is the time to fix that. In addition to the message that it’s not the print it’s the polluting people, here are a few ideas to get you started.