After so many years of environmental dithering, things are starting to move and change is coming. Unilever, one of the world’s largest corporations has signed an important deal with Veolia. This company provides services to local governments specifically in water, waste, transport and energy management. Unilever, a huge print and packaging buyer, is working with Veolia to improve local recycling infrastructures, specifically for plastics recycling and recovery.
Kraft Heinz is the world’s fifth-largest food and beverage company, so it buys an awful lot of print. Recently Kraft Heinz has been paying more attention to its environmental impact, specifically its recycling objectives.
If you’ve got an interest in the packaging business, be that as a manufacturer or converter, you need to know about the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new coalition. Launched in 2010, the Ellen MacArther Foundation works with governments, industry and academia to develop an economic framework that is designed so that waste is not wasted, but instead is used as raw material for something else or gets reused. Such circular economies minimise emissions by closing as much as possible energy and material loops.
Amazing innovations are going on with inks as the graphics industry works to maintain its competiveness and improve environmental impacts. Nano inks are used for printed electronics, sensors and ceramics printing. For a few years now they have been used for commercial and packaging printing, on the basis that they can enhance colour gamut and overall print quality. We know relatively little about the effect of these inks on human health or the environment. One would like to think that impact on health has already been thoroughly researched and tested, but that appears to be the hope rather than the reality.
Despite all the excitement about cutting out plastic, it’s unrealistic to think that all printed plastics will disappear. However it’s not unrealistic to start thinking about improved collection and recycling models for them. This is a massive problem and one that impacts printers in the packaging and sign and display sectors particularly. Unlike paper and board, few plastics readily biodegrade so their value is low.