At the recent Xeikon Café event in Belgium, on display were samples of single use cups printed on a new plastic free stock. Xeikon announced that it is partnering with Kotkamills, a Finnish company which develops repulpable, recyclable and renewable paperboards for packaging and food service applications. Kotkamills is one of twelve recent winners of the NextGen Cup Challenge and Xeikon has been involved in testing its prize winning material. The organisation behind the NextGen Cup Challenge is a consortium set up to address the problem of global food packaging waste and improving the associated supply chains.
Corporate Knights is a Canadian research and publishing company dedicated to reporting on sustainable capitalism. Since 2005 it has compiled an annual list of the top one hundred most sustainable companies in the world. Corporate Knight conducts its evaluations independently and companies make no submissions, except to verify data if they are shortlisted.
Packaging printed onLow Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is changing. LDPE is the cheapest and most commonly used recyclable plastic but it takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. This is in part why various packaging print buyers are moving to alternatives and a key candidate is plastics made from potato starch instead of polythene. Oxy-biodegradeable polymers cost 20% more than LDPEs but they can be composted, which is the good news. But they pose a problem in the recycling chain because they must be processed for composting which is unlikely to happen. This is not so good. Should consumers be offered composting options or should they opt for LDPE packaging which can be recycled or incinerated to generate energy?
A couple of weeks ago we talked about the need for designers to think about the environment when planning media projects. This is especially important in the context of deinking and recycling. But it goes further than thinking about substrates, inks, energy and printing processes. Water solvents, transportation, packaging, all of them contribute to the environmental impact. Ultimately a media project’s design, including the printed components, determines a job’s environmental footprint.
Circular economies are all well and good, but it takes dialogue at many levels, not least between governments. The urgency of dealing with plastic waste was illustrated in a recent report that a small town in Malaysia has become a primary dumping ground for plastic waste. The place is being buried under 17,000 tonnes of the stuff. Some of the plastic is classified as clean and some of it isn’t and has to be processed in some other way. According to the United Nations Environment Programme “In 2015, 47 percent of the plastic waste generated worldwide was plastic packaging waste half of which came from Asia with China being the largest culprit. However the USA generates the most plastic packaging waste per person, with Japan and the European Union following.