Changing behaviours is what environmental awareness and regulation is all about. The graphics industry has come a long way as far as sustainability goes, steadily improving its environmental impact for the last few decades. This has mostly been to improve its bottom line, cutting waste and process inefficiencies to hang on to thinning margins. That doesn’t detract from the fact that waste streams for aluminium and paper are established and profitable. They have in turn encouraged all manner of new businesses associated with turning refuse into new raw materials. So far so good, but it takes politics to encourage the right conditions for such businesses to thrive. It takes politics to encourage printing companies and their customers to push the recycling model further.
Now that drupa 2016’s over, we can start hoping that at drupa 2020 the environmental will be in sharper focus. This year’s organisers missed a great opportunity to take the sustainability lead.
At drupa we were privileged to interview Seiko Epson’s Minoru Usui, CEO and president of the company since 2008. Mr Usui outlined his vision for Epson’s amazing PaperLab technology. PaperLab is an integrated system for producing new paper from waste paper without using water. PaperLab shreds office paper and recombines the cellulose using a binder to create a material that can be flattened and calendared into new papers. The new papers can be coloured and can include Optical Brightening Agents.
At the recent ISO working group meetings for graphics technology, a new standard was introduced for improving the environmental impact of digital production printing devices. The new standard is closely related to the ISO 20690 document for measuring the energy consumption of this sort of device. However, the new standard has a very different target user base.
When we think of the circular economy, hard boiled eggs aren’t necessarily what comes to mind. But they can make an important contribution, particularly when it comes to packaging. Eggs are one of nature’s best examples of effective packaging. Manufactured packaging, mostly using paper and plastics, shares the same goals of product protection, containment and presentation.