Green printing. Reality or fad?

We sometimes tend to forget the sustainable advantages that paper has compared to other materials. The fact that it’s chemical free, biodegradable, has low CO2 emissions and is of sustainable origin are almost taken for granted.

With the increasing attention on plastic waste and the scary images of plastic islands floating in our oceans, paper’s being perceived more positively than ever before. Janosch Schenk, Technical Customer Service Engineer, Alfeld Mill reveals just why: “Although there is no recognised certification system for green printing, we can identify trends and standard practices in the different industry segments. The reality from the paper perspective is that green printing doesn’t really bring any new difficulties to the table. We don’t need to adjust our processes because independent certifications already exist for paper that demand certification requirements. For us, green printing is a new name for something we already do.”

Here are ways green printing’s already being put into practice:

EMAS and ISO 14001 certifications are widely implemented in the industry
Chlorine bleaching has almost been completely phased out
Over 70 per cent of fibres used by European paper and board mills are certified
The chemicals used are largely harmless
Biomass is the main energy source, especially at integrated mills
Reliable communication tools are in place, such as paper profiles, ecolabels and carbon footprint sheets
Paper and print are recyclable and a valuable raw material after use and when recycled

Mineral oil in printing inks is increasingly being replaced by vegetable oils
Print management systems are increasing efficiencies and reducing material waste

Dependency on fossil-based chemicals could be further reduced
The ability to recycle will need to be taken into account when using certain inks, varnishes and laminates and when developing new products, such as barrier papers
The safety of UV inks and varnishes, depending on their print applications
Emissions from mineral oil-based inks, especially with cold-set
Optimal cascaded use of recycled fibres

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