Thanks to the corona virus there have been many casualities in the graphics industry and its supply chains over the last few months. Companies and individuals are facing enormous change, most of it pretty nasty. From the many staff whom the corona virus has made redundant, to the families and individuals losing loved ones, this virus has left none of us untouched. In the graphics industry we have already lost many printing companies, either to the receivers, closure or through consolidation. The industry’s shape is changing, moving faster away from the traditional analogue model towards a fully digital one.
What a year. What a horrible, horrible year. All the uncertainty, the distress, the loss, and the total erosion of the very foundations on which most peoples’ lives are based. Confidence is fragile and the graphics industry, like so many other sectors, faces crisis. But it’s not just about Covid. Many parts of our industry have been declining for years. We need look no further for a model of that decline than to drupa.
Packaging printers are under constant pressure to improve their environmental footprints. But it’s generally the brands who get it in the neck from consumer groups pressuring for change. That is likely to be the case for a while, although it isn’t necessarily a safe assumption to think printing companies are immune. In the UK recently an environmental group managed to prevent three newspaper printing plants from getting their papers out to newsagents. The protesters’ gripe was not on the basis that printing is bad for the environment, but that the national press does not provide enough coverage of environmental concerns.
The oil oligarchy must be getting anxious. Not only are oil prices way down because of the reduction in transportation and the rise in renewable energy, but plastics are being steadily phased out across industries. In the graphics business we are seeing some highly innovative approaches to replacing plastics in all sorts of areas, from paper bottles through to polybags made from compostable materials. More importantly some very large companies have committed to removing plastics in their products. This will help drive change in supply chains, and help to wean all players off the plastics habit.
Along with book printing, packaging is one of the few areas of print that is thriving. Calls for better waste management particularly of plastics and for recycling are getting louder, amid wider concerns over packaging’s overall environmental impact, particularly as it gets more complex.