Environmental news for drupa

medium_2015_Laurel B.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

Important as they might be to us as individuals, environmental impact mitigation and sustainability concerns have much lower priority when it comes to most businesses. Say what they like, but if supporting environmental initiatives means adding cost or inconvenience, most firms are unlikely to take them up. It’s a terrible thing to admit, but sadly that reality is the case in the graphics industry. And yet supporting sustainability and environmental impact mitigation in graphics production can save money and help process automation. This should help overcome perceptions of inconvenience too and yet it doesn’t.

Perhaps it’s just that the message is difficult for many printing company owners to get, so we are hopeful that there will be much loud and clear environmental shouting at drupa this coming June. Oddly, there is no overarching environmental message from the show’s marketing team or from the organisers, Messe Düsseldorf. Both entities are expecting exhibitors to fully exploit the exhibition to promote messages of sustainability for the printing industry.

Asahi Photoproducts is one such organisation. This company makes photopolymer flexo printing plates and has put environmental harmony at the heart of its business. The technology being presented at drupa is a new water recycling unit claimed to cut waste water usage by 80%, with no solvents used in the wash-out process. The water recycling unit is built into the platemaking system and the new water recycling units can be retrofitted.

The new unit requires only two litres per square metre of plate material to process the plate instead of ten. That little bit of waste is then dried in a drying unit that also produces a “highly concentrated liquid extract”. The dried material is made into cakes which can be incinerated and Asahi say that the liquid extract can be used to help cool an incineration plant. Energy and transportation is required for the cake making and liquid processing and this may exceed the environmental footprint of Asahi’s existing processing technology. We look forward to finding out more about how this works in practise.

Asahi’s introduction is another step in the right direction. Flexography has been improving its environmental footprint as well as output quality for several years, taking market share from both gravure printing and from offset. The rise in printed packaging volumes has also helped this technology in the marketplace, so anything that makes it more environmentally accountable is a good thing. Asahi’s announcement is as much about making flexo more competitive as it is about environmental impact. We expect to see many more such commitments at drupa, especially from Miraclon in its first showing at a major show as an independent company selling the Kodak Flexcel NX technology.

– 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.

Please also include the Verdigris logo and a link to this website. If you don't already have our logos, you can get them by downloading the "Publishers Bundle" from our Archive page. And don’t forget terms of the Creative Commons license at the footer of the site. Enjoy!