It’s been a depressing few weeks when it comes to making progress on climate change, for the graphics business as well as everyone else. The recent COP25 was widely panned for the lack of consensus on some pretty basic issues, and for a paucity of outcomes for the event. The biggest disappointment has to be the fact that nothing was done to set up rules for an international carbon trading system. That has to be the foundation for emissions management and control, but ideas for how to do it failed to achieve consensus.
Newspapers are struggling still as they wrestle with new business models that shift from printed copy sales to digital delivery. The environmental impact of digital media is largely unquantified, but obviously digital media generate emissions throughout their lives. Print on the other hand, has a one-off carbon footprint and is based on a sustainable resource: wood.
HP Indigo has long been criticised for the tenacity of its inks when it comes to deinking printed matter for recycling. It’s a controversial discussion guaranteed to raise passions, but there are alternatives to deinking digital prints for recycling and one of the latest gaining attention is composting. We have seen many publishers make the move to composable polywraps based on potato starch and other organic materials. But HP Indigo is the first digital printing press manufacturer talking about the compostability of printed matter.
Process free platesetting is the next step in cutting processing steps from print production lines and making them more environmentally sustainable. Going process free does away with the plate processor, chemicals, disposal concerns and of course the man power and time involved in prepress.
Ink contributes only a miniscule amount to the overall carbon footprint of printed matter. But its use, development, manufacture and removal in readiness for substrate recycling can have a substantial impact. The use part is especially important since it can affect operators’ health and influence other aspects of production’s energy footprint, such as curing and drying.