Sustainability in the Printing Industry

The sustainability trend has long since reached the printing industry and is a major topic in the sector.

For example, when it comes to drying processes, power consumption, use of resources and speed in the printing process or postpress, the question of ecological significance always comes up. The aim is to reduce waste and emissions without increasing costs.

Brand owners and packagers have significantly reduced plastic and are increasingly relying on recyclable paper packaging. Sustainability is also in demand for finishing. Cold foil is the trend. “Compared to metallized, film-laminated cartons, it is more recyclable, more flexible, and more economical, and it can also be processed at high machine speeds,” Heidelberg says. The board can be printed in multiple colors and coated in the same pass.

“More and more print buyers are demanding proof” of sustainable production from their print service providers, explains Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG. For around ten years, the press manufacturer has been using environmentally friendly consumables such as chemical-free and processless printing plates, coatings, inks made from renewable raw materials or chemicals that produce less waste with its Saphira Eco product line. Now this product line has been relaunched. If you think ecologically, you print economically. It is still far too little known that environmentally friendly consumables can cut costs thanks to a lower total cost of ownership and without compromising on productivity and quality, explains Hans Huyghe, Head of Product Management Consumables at Heidelberg.

Industry giant Koenig & Bauer is also increasingly focusing on ecological production. In packaging printing, for example, the Rapida 106 X sheetfed offset press does what two presses would otherwise produce, but only consumes energy for one press. 4/4-color print products, including coating enhancement, are produced in a single sheet run. Thanks to convertible sheet reversal, it is also possible to print more than four colors .

Digital printing is considered the more ecological process compared to offset or flexographic printing because it does not require chemicals or printing plates. This is not the only reason why more and more companies are turning to hybrid systems that combine the advantages of flexographic and digital printing. A large number of different printing processes, printing materials, and printing inks can be handled better with the hybrid press.

According to a study by the European Rotogravure Association (ERA), almost no waste is produced in the production cycle of rotogravure printing, and the process is characterized by a very high recycling rate.

It remains to be seen whether the used press business will play a greater role in the future due to ecological and/or economic requirements. What is certain is that if companies have to watch their purchasing budget, buying a used machine – there are many on the market – can be a good alternative.

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