The job of a package is manifold and yet very simple. A package must protect contents from damage, and provide a barrier between what’s inside and what’s not inside. The contents must stay in the package at all costs and must not become corrupted or otherwise spoiled within it. Ideally the package should extend the shelf life of its contents and maintain its own integrity in terms of structure and appearance over time. The materials from which it is made should also be recyclable or biodegradeable. And it must also be possible to print on packaging surfaces in a way that minimises waste in the supply chain.
At the recent Fespa Asia show in Bangkok, Thailand we learnt more about the Thai Forest Certification Scheme (TFCS). Rungnapa Wattanavichian, manager of the Thailand Forest Certification Council (TFCC) told us that their scheme’s main objective is to protect the forests because “forests give us everything - home, food and different materials that we can use”.
Conventional label printers and sellers of label printing equipment and consumables face yet another existential threat. A new printing technology is being used in various European countries to replace stickers on fruits and vegetables. The technology is a sort of direct to object technique, however this is not a new application of inkjet printing. Laser marking fans are calling it “natural branding” and it works by using a laser to mark foods. Although it has mainly been used for fruits with a robust skin, such as melons, laser marking can work even on soft fruits, like tomatoes. It’s a nonimpact technique that doesn’t affect the food or how long it lasts.
Next month CeBit opens its doors in Hannover to an international audience of tech nerds and their followers. Japan will have a big presence at CeBit, showcasing itself as a driving force in the digital transformation. The star attraction for the graphics industry will be PaperLab, Epson’s paper recycling system currently positioned for use in offices but with wider potential. PaperLab uses a mostly dry process to turn waste office paper into new printable sheets. The CeBit presentation will be the first time this technology has been shown outside Japan.
Green prizes are an excellent way to encourage improved environmental habits, but in the graphics business we aren’t exactly awash with them. That may be because sponsors find it hard to specify award winning criteria. Or it may be because not enough companies can be bothered to submit entries. Either way the upshot is that over the last couple of years some high profile environmental awards in the graphics industry have been quietly discontinued. Kodak is a notable exception with the Sonora Plate Green Leaf Awards, launched in 2014.