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How to be more green in print

With more and more consumers looking for sustainable alternatives, Carys Evans asks: “What steps can print and sign companies take to be more green?”

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Chris Green, head of channel – visual communication and hardware, Antalis UK & Ireland

Assess your products

It’s an obvious first step, but businesses need to look at their current output. Have they assessed their products in terms of environmental factors and sustainability? Product packaging labelling on environmental credentials is getting increasingly better, and where they’re not sure, make sure they’re picking up the phone to their suppliers. All of our teams get extensive training on product origins and disposal for just this reason.

Once they’ve done that, I’d say ‘start small’, substitute products which have a poor or negative end of life environmental solution and replace with more sustainable products which also have an economic benefit. This obviously depends on the application but some include moving Foam PVC in flat applications to Dispa or replacing MDF in an application with a completely sustainable product like Xanita. Both products will give great printed results, have a better end of life benefit as they can be easily recycled in the paper waste stream and will be cost neutral or show a slight saving.

Once you have shown you can move business to more sustainable products, widen the net and look at switching more products; Foam Centred Board for hanging signage solutions to Antacote Lite, PVC film to Priplak and PVC self-adhesives to a PP or Polyester version in the Coala, Drytac and Orafol range.

It’s an obvious first step, but businesses need to look at their current output. Have they assessed their products?

If you can’t reasonably switch products but have a customer that is looking to decrease their impact on the environment, a great solution is the promotion of carbon offsetting. Antalis offers a scheme that allows customers to offset the carbon generated in the production & distribution from source to printer by purchasing carbon credits, these are invested in projects which reduce carbon impact.

Using two chosen partners, World Land Trust & Forest Carbon, we facilitate this for our customers and provide the ability to download a label which can be used on the finished piece to prove the job has been fully offset. Our customers can promote this to their end users to evidence their sustainability credentials.

Focus on materials

Tony Hitchin, general manager, Pro Carton

With sustainability so high up corporate, consumer and government agendas, taking a closer look at signage is something businesses cannot afford to ignore. Historically, most signage – from large scale banners and posters to shelf-edge stickers and wobblers, has been made from various types of plastic and vinyl. But as shoppers begin to scrutinise how environmentally friendly retailers are, signage is likely to increasingly fall under that scrutiny.

We know from an independent study commissioned by Pro Carton in 2017 that major brand owners and retailers already understand the importance of sustainability. The study was conducted across five European markets: Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain, investigating views and attitudes on sustainability and its importance to their business. Around 96% of respondents said that the use of sustainable packaging was important to their business with just over half (52%) saying this was either ‘very important’ or ‘critical.’

As shoppers begin to scrutinise how environmentally friendly retailers are, signage is likely to increasingly fall under that scrutiny

A further 62% of the brand owners and retailers we asked expected a growing need for sustainability in packaging, and folding cartons were perceived as the most sustainable primary packaging; it makes sense that the same perceptions will increasingly be applied to signage.

Cartonboard really is the perfect example of the circular economy and if signage companies are serious about wanting to take a more sustainable approach, they need to start by using a sustainable material whenever possible. That’s material that is renewable, recyclable and biodegradable. It would be good to think that cartonboard might become their first-choice medium in the future.

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