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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Partnership is the way forward

Laurel-2018.jpgThe Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

There are many lessons being learned as the pandemic starts to loosen its grip in developed economies. One of the most important when it comes to sustainability in the graphics industry, is the need for more partnerships. Partnerships in this business come in many shapes and sizes. Agfa has a model of selling just the coatings to its plate customers, with Agfa handling the aluminium recycling for them. The World Land Trust works with paper makers to “carbon balance” the carbon impact of their products.

Money’s what I want

medium_laurel2015.jpgThe Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

That line from Randy Newman’s song probably resonates for most graphics businesses, as well as their supply chains. Money is vital to keep businesses going, but it is also coming to the forefront of efforts to tackle climate change. We have long argued that environmental impact mitigation and sustainability will only move up the agenda if there is a financial interest in such moves, so the UN’s Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance is good news. For the majority of firms in the graphics business this will basically be a very big yawn. But as consolidation continues apace in the printing and publishing industries, especially as the pandemic bites deeper, large companies looking for large investments, would should take heed.

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.

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