Sun, Sep

Exploring the possibilities

Did you miss out on the Planet Friendly talks that formed part of the Explore Conference at Fespa Digital? If so, here are the edited highlights.

Printers attending Fespa Digital this year really missed out. As part of its Explore Conference during the show, Fespa ran a two-day Planet Friendly series of talks, those on the first day built around the theme ‘Why be green?’ and on the second around ‘How to be green?’ Attendance was pitiful, leaving speakers who had honed their presentations to a print audience talking largely to other presenters, journalists and representatives from interested exhibitors - a shame because the environment, and print companies’ attitudes and behaviour towards it, is clearly becoming an ever bigger issue with huge potential impact on how the print industry as a whole and the specific print businesses within it progress.

Assuming that printers attending Fespa Digital wanted to spend their time in the main exhibition hall rather than attending seminars - hence the reason for the poor turnout at the Planet Friendly talks in the conference room above (rather than a lack of interest in the topic) here’s an insight into some of the key points made during event. For more information on the presentations check out the Fespa website at www.fespa.com/digital

Why be green?

You know the basic arguments well enough by now, but in her opening presentation environmental consultant Clare Taylor painted a stark picture of the future for businesses failing to take a more proactive ‘green’ stance.

“Do you have an environment change contingency plan? You need one. Climate change is likely to mean more floods, higher temperatures, power outages etc. over the coming years, so do you know how you will operate your business under these conditions? How will you manage if there’s a scarcity of supply in terms of consumables, how will your kit function in a heat-wave, what if you can’t deliver good as specified due to transport problems?”

If that doesn’t get you thinking, what about her observation that “polluters pay” as the guiding principle behind much of the environmental legislation we can see coming through. The economic reasons for becoming more environmentally responsible have been well aired but Taylor pointed out certain other interesting aspects that may have slipped under your green radar. Take energy. “Prices are increasing as supply becomes more scarce. What’s good for the planet is good for your business. I agree that ‘the cheapest kWh is the kWh not used’ – it’s also the one that emits the least carbon dioxide. Some companies are beginning to consider their suppliers’ emissions – you can see where this is going and how that might affect your business.”

In terms of waste Taylor highlighted that this means not just waste material and consumables, but wasted energy and even salary costs! “The real benefit comes in reducing the potential for waste,” she said. “Companies are expanding what they mean by ‘waste’ and expecting their suppliers to fit in with their new waste management programmes. So consider ‘product stewardship’ for instance. Can your waste material become someone else’s raw material? Such partnerships will save money and show customers that you are working hard to be a responsible part of the waste chain.

“Even if you are not working for large brands, you can see the trend. And those bigger brands are now looking two to three tiers down their own supply chain, looking at the goods/services they buy and how those suppliers operate.

“Take a look at the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Supply Chain Report 2011 (www. cdproject.net/CDPResults/CDP-2011-Supply-Chain-Report.pdf). Data from the 1,000 participating companies shows that over 50% of an average corporation’s carbon emissions are typically from the supply chain rather than within its own four walls. So the big corporations are beginning to look at their supply chain in the case of product content traceability (FSC, PEFC etc), carbon footprints, water footprints, pollution control and environmental management systems.”

In the following talk, ‘Sustainability today and tomorrow’, consultant Paul Machin reiterated the opening day theme of ‘Why be green’ by defining the term ‘sustainable’ as a way to “meet our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” and by highlighting the legislative moves to ensure business acts accordingly.

“Various environmental directives from the EC are imminent, including one on the environmental footprint of products,” he explained. “That is likely to become law in the EU in the next five years and printers will have to abide by this too.” Eco-labelling for printing and corporate environmental footprint directives are also in the works.

“Expect directives that look at the carbon footprint of digital printing. This will include areas such as energy (regarding substrate manufacture etc. as well the amount consumed in the actual printing process); emissions from transportation (fuel levels to supply the printer with consumables, staff travel, product delivery etc); waste/recycling …

“There is help for printers confused by this changing environmental landscape, such as Fespa’s Planet Friendly Guide, carbon footprint calculators etc.”

The greatest draw on the second day of the Planet Friendly conference was the talk given by Richard Gardner, managing director and chairman of Gardners on the ‘Impact of PVC on the printing industry’. His message was clear: PVC is at the top of the pyramid for being the most environmentally damaging plastic. But it prints beautifully and is readily available. Yet he’s trying to use alternatives where possible.

“Our mission statement says we’ll avoid using PVC where we can use an alternative and help customers to recycle” said Gardners, who’s company is also dedicated to various other environmental policies including reducing waste. “And whatever you do to PVC has a direct impact upon what you can do with it afterwards. It’s expensive to recycle – indeed 70-80% can’t be recycled. And incineration isn’t really an option, so it’s easy to understand why steps are being taken toward a total PVC ban.”

A number of Gardners’ big brand customers are seeking to reduce the amount of PVC they use, including Walmart, Tesco and Ikea.

“Hence we’ve started using alternatives, but it’s often more costly for me. Take PE and PP banner materials; there are disadvantages in working with these so you have to spend time educating the customer about what they are getting. And you won’t be paid more, maybe less. But the point is, you have to offer the PVC alternative.”


Take a look at BioMedia

At Fespa Digital Ilford introduced a BioMedia range of recyclable and biodegradable vinyl alternatives in Europe. It includes display films which employ Ilford’s coating technologies to create a universally compatible layer, as well paper-based products, boards and laminates for use on a range of aqueous, eco-solvent, solvent and latex printers.

The BioMedia products, launched in the US launch in October 2011, are compliant with the EU Reach regulations and breaks down under anaerobic landfill conditions thanks to an additive that accelerates the biodegradation process. The products have been tested and found to biodegrade by an independent laboratory according to ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standard D5511, which determines the anaerobic biodegradation of plastic materials.

BioMedia includes:

  • BioMedia Display Film: A flexible printing substrate available in standard roll sizes and in 300, 400 and 550 micron. Using a microporous imaging front layer, BioMedia Display Film is compatible with aqueous, eco-solvent, solvent and latex technology. It is suitable for indoor applications as a direct replacement for coated vinyl or polyester media and can be used in a variety of applications from pop-ups and point of sale displays to posters and exhibition panels.
  • BioMedia Display Film UV: Compatible with UV printers, the range is suitable for outdoor display applications including poster displays or banners. The product range is available in a range of weights and roll sizes to meet the different application requirements.BioMedia Rigid Display Board: These direct-to-print boards are suitable for all UV print platforms and, at 750 microns, 1.5mm and 2.7mm thicknesses, offer durable replacements for traditional mounting boards. They are perfect for heavy-duty signage, internal cladding or displays.
  • BioMedia Laminate: For a biodegradable satin finish, the BioMedia line includes 75, 125 and 250 micron laminates. These have similar properties to traditional polyester laminates yet are biodegradable as well as recyclable and can be used with a variety of substrates for indoor or outdoor applications.
  • Photo Realistic: A paper-based media that has been certified as responsibly sourced in compliance with the requirements of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC C107238). Available in gloss and satin finishes and compatible with aqueous printers, the product features an instant dry porous ink receiving layer and is suitable for printing posters, exhibition panels and graphic displays.


The Planet Friendly Guide

Since 2007 Fespa has published a Planet Friendly Printing Guide covering the regulations and certification schemes relating to environmental best practice for printers and offers detailed advice on environmental management. Since then it has been updated several times but it has only been available to members of Fespa’s 37 member associations – Fespa UK here. However, ahead of Fespa Digital and in recognition that the environment is a pressing issue for all printers, Fespa made an abridged version of the guide available to non-member printers.

In addition Fespa has extended the availability of information from its recent content-led events, such as its Global Summits. Go to www.fespa.com




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