The Verdigris Blog by Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, Fujifilm, HP, Kodak, Miraclon, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

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Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Banners on their way out

medium_2015_Laurel B.jpgThe Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

We’ve known for a while that PVC is a seriously uncool material to print on, but there is still an awful lot of it about. Despite the environmental nastiness of PVC, which cannot be recycled, it works extremely well in many print applications mainly because it is cheap. Banners particularly are often printed on PVC for indoor and outdoor use. They are strong, durable, lightweight and weather resistant, so they are still widely used and plenty of printers are available to produce them. But not for long.

Augmented reality in printed packaging

Laurel-2018.jpgThe Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

A few years ago there was a bit of a buzz around intelligent packaging. The excitement was based on the fact that with the addition of printed electronics and an online connection, packaging and food processing would be revolutionised. Smart packaging would use near-field communications to be more efficient and more engaging. The package would warn you if the food was going off, or it would tell the retailer the rate of sales, or the most popular time of day for sales. There was even an argument that claimed such packaging was more environmentally friendly, because it could cut food waste. In fact it might discourage shoppers to know that according to an electronic sensor a piece of beef was on the turn, rather than being well hung.

Sustainable textile printing needs a bigger conversation

medium_laurel2015.jpgThe Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

The environmental impact of textile production is starting to get more attention. Manufacturers and developers within the graphics industry want to sell digital printing systems for direct-to-garment (DtG) and general textile printing, so they are especially keen. How they frame their messages is tricky though. There is an inherent conflict between the on demand, have-it-now-and-toss-it mentality, and the model that encourages resource conservation. A throw-away culture is bad for the environment, but it suits digital printing and sells more print. But digital printing involves much shorter supply chains and so much lower emissions. Reconciling the two in the textiles sector is a major challenge for our industry.

Textiles & the Circular Economy

medium_2015_Laurel B.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

Digital printing of textiles gets a lot of hype these days. Technology developers and service providers alike are searching for the next killer app for digital printing systems. The sustainability of these solutions is touted on the basis that they undermine and essentially subvert traditional printed textile production systems, which have a heavy environmental impact. But perhaps the more serious impact happens after production, when textiles are thrown away either for recycling via charity shops or just as waste. In the European Union (EU) alone 4.3 million tonnes of textile waste gets burnt up or landfilled every year. Even though hundreds of thousands of tonnes of new textiles come to market monthly, hardly any of it contributes to a circular economy.

PrintCYC for plastic films recycling

Laurel-2018.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

Set up in 2019, PrintCYC is an initiative for recycling and processing printed plastic film waste. It has the support of Huber Group, a leading ink manufacturer and numerous other participants in the plastic film supply chain. The group’s goal is to provide cost-effective and useful new materials made from postindustrial waste. Huber Group and its partners describe PrintCYC (which rather oddly stands for Printed Polypropylene (PP) and Polyethylene (PE) films for mechanical recycling) as “a value chain initiative for the recyling of printed films”. The group includes machine makers and other film specialists as well as Huber.

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