Demand for Sustainable Print Technologies Will Create New Business Opportunities

More environmentally friendly printing is emerging as a key industry trend for the 2020s. This trend is examined in detail in the Smithers report “The Future of Green Printing to 2026,

Published in August 2021, the report profiles the evolution of circular economy principles, key legislative initiatives, the impact on analog and digital print processes, and all major print product segments (Books, Magazines, Newspapers, Advertising, Catalogs, Commercial, Security applications, Transactional print, Printed décor and textiles, Packaging, and Labels).

Smithers’ “Future of Green Printing to 2026” report examines the current state of green printing, shifting consumer attitudes, and the market shifts that ultimately provide the basis for the growth of green printing.

For example, brand owners and consumers are increasingly seeking and choosing solutions that minimize carbon emissions and waste. Print-service providers (PSPs), ink and media suppliers, and equipment manufacturers that invest in more sustainable solutions over the next five years are likely to be rewarded.

New Business Opportunities

The report examines specific opportunities that will evolve at each stage of the print value chain. For example:

Cutting waste in makeready and set-up will favor wider use of digital (inkjet and electrophotography) print systems. A forecast reduction in the average run length for many print jobs will magnify this impact

The rapid adoption of bio-based solvent and water-based inks will reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds.

Sales of sustainable substrates will increase, including recycled fiber and virgin paper grades from sustainably managed forests. For PSPs there is an onus to limit use of virgin materials and print on recycled paper grades when a premium surface is not necessary

Packaging designers will move away from the existing plastic packaging to fiber-based alternatives. Print-service providers can capitalize on this trend by retooling their print lines to support these less uniform substrates.

New fiber sources for printing papers will be studied, including bamboo or agricultural by-products.

Recycled plastic and biopolymer substrates will be used more widely in some packaging applications

Investments will rise in print processes that minimize the use of secondary raw materials, such as water consumption for wash off.

There will be greater support for technology platforms that enable the collection and reuse of print materials, both in industrial closed-loop and consumer recycling streams.

Reshoring production and printing will improve supply-chain security and reduce carbon emissions and wastage in transit.

Larger organizations can switch to centralized printing models, with a single server assigning job requests most efficiently across its network of presses and end-users. This can also extend into the integration of web-to-print platforms for consumer sales.

For more information, download a brochure from the Smithers website: The Future of Green Printing to 2026 | Market Reports & Research | Smithers

The Smithers Methodology

This report is based on extensive primary and secondary research. Primary research consisted of targeted interviews with printing material suppliers, converters and experts drawn from key markets. This was supported by secondary research in the form of extensive literature analysis of published data, official government statistics, domestic and international trade organization data, company websites, industry reports, trade press articles, presentations, and attendance at trade events.

Groups that can benefit from the information in this report include: print-business owners; suppliers of raw materials and consumables; manufacturers of printing machinery and equipment; print buyers; and consultants and analysts.

About the Author: David Zwang

Print and publishing consultant David Zwang has helped companies increase their productivity, margins and market reach for over 40 years. He specializes in process analysis, automation, engineering and strategic development for firms in the fields of publishing and packaging. He is currently the Chairman of the Ghent Workgroup (GWG), an international organization of graphic arts users, associations, and software developers that is building best practices for publishing and packaging workflows.

Multi-Color Corp. Collaborates with Digimarc on Food Traceability Solution and Orkla on a Plastics Recycling Initiative

Multi-Color Corporation (MCC), a global leader in label solutions, and Digimarc Corporation, the creator of the Digimarc Platform for digital identification and detection, have established a partnership to serialize product packaging and labels with Digimarc Barcode in support of food safety and traceability initiatives.

MCC is also utilizing Digimarc non-serialized digital watermarking identities with its client Orkla to improve the sortation of plastic and promote a circular economy.

Traceability for Food Packaging

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recalls in the food industry cost approximately $29 million per occurrence. To help mitigate the impact of these recalls, MCC and Digimarc have co-developed a hybrid printing method in which Digimarc Barcode can be printed in large volumes.

This Digimarc-enhanced label printed by Multi-Color includes an all-over “invisible” bar code that can be scanned even if the package has been crushed or rotated in the recycling stream.

Plastic clamshells containing berries, for example, can be serialized with a Digimarc-enhanced label produced by MCC’s hybrid printing process. Quality control procedures ensure Digimarc is scannable throughout the supply chain. And when consumer brands combine serialized products with an IoT management platform, individual packages can easily be traced back to their origin at a specific farm, as well as across the entire supply chain.

“Traceability is essential for consumer brands and food manufacturers to promote consumer safety, mitigate risk and gain real-time insight into raw materials and product locations in farms, warehouses, logistics and distribution centers,” said Matthew Thomas, Business Development Manager, MCC. “MCC’s rich expertise in the area of digital and hybrid printing brings Digimarc’s serialized identities to life and at scale. It’s a partnership that is perfectly positioned to impact the food supply chain of today and the future.”

Improving Plastic Sorting During Recycling

MCC Verstraete IML is working with Orkla, a leading supplier of branded consumer goods, to introduce Digimarc’s digital watermarking identities into packaging for one of its product lines. The interactive IML (Injection Moulding Labels) with Digimarc, can enable accurate and reliable scanning to improve plastic sorting, and return more plastics back into the recovery stream.

“With Digimarc digital watermarking, we can alter how people view waste. For example, when a bottle is empty, it becomes unwanted—something to be discarded. Now imagine if, instead of just throwing this away, the consumer could scan the bottle with their smartphone and be shown new possibilities,” said Pavel Komurka, Packaging Innovation and Sustainability Coordinator, Orkla. “We could present ideas and provide examples, from reuse options to new products created at the end of a recycling stream. With Digimarc, we’re able to explore an exciting new world of opportunities.”

“Our partnership with MCC provides a tangible way for consumer brands to get started on their traceability and recycling initiatives,” said Scott Wilcox, VP, Client Services, Digimarc. “By partnering with the intelligent labeling experts at MCC and MCC Verstraete IML, we can improve sortation and the re-use of plastic materials, an issue of paramount importance to the world we all share. Our solution starts with the action of the consumer and extends into better identification in material recovery facilities, eliminating more of the waste that ends up in our environment.”

Intelligent Food Labelling White Paper

MCC published an original white paper, “Intelligent Food Labelling” for product tracing and supply-chain management. The white paper highlights the challenge of food safety, outlines the benefits of Digimarc Barcode and details how MCC is working with Orkla to support its sustainability goals.

Recipients of 2021 Sustainable Business Recognition Awards Named by PRINTING United Alliance

On Earth Day, 2021, the PRINTING United Alliance named the 15 recipients of its 2021 Sustainable Business Recognition Awards. The awards honor companies for sustainable business practices as well as projects that have reduced the company’s environmental footprint, improved employee safety and well-being, and optimized the company’s bottom line.

 

This year’s honorees include: 9 print-service providers and 6 suppliers of print-industry equipment or materials.

Print-Service Providers

Albert Basse Associates

Bolger Vision Beyond Print

Echo Communications

Empire Screen Printing

LEM Products

MegaPrint

Night Owls

Surrey Digital Printing

T-One Print PTY Ltd

Suppliers

ColorLogic GmbH

Lawson Screen and Digital Products

Ricoh USA

S-One Holdings Corp.

Stratojet USA

Vapor Apparel

“PRINTING United Alliance proudly serves as a leader in guiding our members on how to implement and navigate environmental, health, and safety initiatives and best practices in what often can be an ever-changing, confusing environment,” said Marci Kinter, vice-president, government and regulatory affairs, PRINTING United Alliance. “We are proud of these members who go above and beyond in implementing extraordinary measures in environmental sustainability and responsibility.”

“S-One is very pleased to received the 2021 PRINTING United Alliance Sustainable Business Recognition Award,” said Art Lambert, co-founder, S-One Holdings Corporation. “We are committed to reducing the impact of printing on the environment by developing innovative, sustainable printing materials across all of our product lines.” Companies in the S-One portfolio include ABAQA, Avatrex, Brand Management Group, DIGIPRINT SUPPLIES, LexJet, S-One Labels & Packaging, and Utopia Digital Technologies.

“We are honored to be recognized once again by PRINTING United Alliance with the Sustainable Business Recognition Award,” said Maureen O’Connor, president and CEO, LEM Products, Inc. “Our daily culture of safety and compliance in both occupational health as well as environmental responsibility is something that has become a shared experience and effort by all of our employees. We all feel a sense of pride in being part of a team goal to keep our business prosperous while promoting and enacting best practices toward environmental stewardship.” LEM Products, Inc. makes custom safety hazard signs, labels, and tags for equipment manufactures and maintenance, repair, and operations suppliers.

How to Apply for 2022 Sustainable Business Awards

Any member company that wants to submit a project or activity for consideration needs to complete an application and submit it to PRINTING United Alliance between January 15, 2022 and March 15, 2022. Projects must be implemented in 2021 for recognition in 2022.

Applications will be reviewed by PRINTING United Alliance’s Advisory Council on Sustainability, Safety, Health and Personnel.

For more information, and to request to be notified when the application is available, visit: sgia.org/programs/awards-competition/sustainable-business-recognition

About the PRINTING United Alliance

PRINTING United Alliance is the most comprehensive member-based printing and graphic arts association in the United States. Its wide array of services include government and legislative representation, and safety, and environmental sustainability guidance.

Sustainability resources include The Green Guide for Graphic Communications, a step-by-step approach to evaluating and marketing your company’s sustainability profile.


Sustainability Initiatives in OOH Advertising

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising companies are playing a key role in promoting the importance of environmental action. In addition to posting educational ad messages, they are exploring innovative ways to reduce the environmental impact of OOH advertising.

OAAA Members Donate Ad Space to EARTHDAY.ORG

The Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) reports that its members donated ad space throughout April to a campaign to support EARTHDAY.ORG. The theme of the 2021 Earth Day is “Restore our Earth” and examines natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.

The digital OOH campaign is running coast to coast on multiple screens including bulletins, posters, bus shelters, Times Square signage and more.

“We’re proud to support the Restore Our Earth campaign in the weeks leading up to Earth Day 2021,” said OAAA President and CEO Anna Berger. “The out-of-home platform is prime for fostering awarnress across the world about the challenges our climate faces and the natural solutions and emerging green technologies that create opportunities for global impact.”

EARTHDAY.ORG’s mission is to diversify, educate, and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, EARTHDAY.ORG works with more than 150,000 partners in nearly 192 countries. More than one billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

Rapport Beyond Billboards Offset Carbon Emissions

The Rapport OOH media buying and planning agency arm of IPG Mediabrands now offers U.S. clients billboards and related out-of-home advertising products that offset carbon emissions and purity the air. A special coating of Titanium Dioxide is applied the printed materials to reduce NOx gases such as carbon emissions and industrial pollutants while the ad is posted. The coating uses sunlight to attract greenhouse gases, smog, and more and acts like a microscopic sponge to soak up carbon.

As the harmful gases turn into harmless nitrates, the air is purified. The new offering is called “Rapport Beyond”

“A single Rapport Beyond billboard has the capacity to offset 12 cards averaging 10,000 miles a year, the equivalent of planting 88 trees,” said IPG Mediabrands Global CEO Daryl Lee.

“We have a responsibility to drive innovation in OOH in ways that deliver new value to our clients,” said Chris Olsen, president US, Rapport. “Our goal is to print 2.5 million square feet of material with the air purifying coating in 2021. Rapport Beyond ads can help cleanse the air simply by existing in a physical space, something the world needs now more than ever.

For more information: https://rapportww.com/beyond

UK Ad Association Leads AdNet Zero Program

In the UK, The Advertising Association (AA), in partnership with the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) and ISBA (Incorporated Society of British Advertisers), has launched Ad Net Zero, an industry-wide initiative to help UK advertising respond to the climate crisis caused by CO2 emissions. Ad Net Zero’s mission is for immediate, collective industry action to help achieve real net zero carbon emissions from the development, production and media placement of advertising by the end of 2030.

In conjunction with the Ad Net Zero launch in November 2020, the AA has published a report by its Climate Action Working Group with Credos, UK advertising’s think tank.

The organization spelled out a five-point action plan:

  • Advertising Businesses’ Operations: All companies commit to curtail their carbon emissions, principally by reducing travel, fossil energy use and waste.
  • Advertising Production: Advertisers, agencies and production companies commit to measuring and reducing their impacts with support from AdGreen.
  • Media Choice: Media agencies commit to the IPA Media Futures Group Climate Charter, working with their clients to develop lower carbon media plans.
  • Awards and Events: Organizers build sustainability criteria into awards, and plan events to minimise their carbon footprints, especially from travel.
  • Using Advertising’s Positive Influence: Agencies and clients harness the power of their advertising to promote more sustainable consumer choices and behaviours.

The report recognizes that individuals and companies throughout the advertising sector are concerned about climate change. Some 71% of people working across the industry are worried about the negative impacts of the industry on the environment. More want their agencies to take climate action.

“People across our sector want advertising to be part of the solution to the climate crisis, through the role it can play in influencing corporate policy and consumer behaviour and helping people make more sustainable choices in what they buy, use and do,” said James Best, Chair, Climate Action Working Group and Credos. He said research showed that knowing their organization is taking climate action would improve the job satisfaction for nine out of ten advertising professionals.

For more information: Climate Change – Advertising Association (adassoc.org.uk)

Organizations that Promote Sustainability in Printing and Packaging

To learn more about sustainability efforts within the printing and packaging industry, the resources listed below can give you a good start.

sustainability resources for printing and packaging

The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP)

SGP’s vision to create a true circular economy within the print supply chain. SGP is the print industry’s catalyst to increase business opportunities among brands committed to a sustainable supply chain and grow profits by reducing resource consumption and waste.

SGP provides print buyers with transparent, measurable assurance that SGP-certified facilities will help print buyers meet and exceed sustainability goals.

To become SGP-certified, each SGP printer must commit to:

  • Reduce waste and hazardous materials
  • Conserve energy
  • Source sustainable materials
  • Lower its carbon footprint
  • Create a safer workplace
  • Conform to all relevant environmental health, safety, and labor labs
  • Adopt a third-party recertification audit every two years
  • Undergo a third-party recertification audit every two years.

For information about SGP visit: https://sgppartnership.org/

For information about SGP certification: http://sgppartnership.org/certification/

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is a membership-based collaborative that believes industry can make packaging more sustainable. The SPC brings together businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies to collectively broaden the understanding of packaging sustainability and develop meaningful improvements for packaging solutions.

The SPC has developed tools, applications, and services to help companies take meaningful action toward packaging sustainability.

For example, the SPC has produced a series of online courses on “The Essentials of Sustainable Packaging

Earlier this year, they published a 59-page report: “Understanding the Role of Compostable Packaging in North America.”

More info: sustainablepackaging.org/

Two Sides North America

Two Sides North America is an independent, non-profit organization that uses a straightforward, balanced approach to tell the sustainability story of print, paper and paper-based packaging. Two Sides tackles relevant environmental issues head-on with factual, authoritative information that exposes myths and explains the industry’s true sustainability.

Two Sides North America Fact Sheet
Two Sides North America publishes Fact Sheets such as this one about Paper Production and Sustainable Forestry.

Member companies span the Graphic Communications and Paper-based Packaging value chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, paper-based packaging, chemicals and inks, pre-press, press, finishing, printing, publishing, envelopes and postal operations.

The goal is to gives stakeholders a solid foundation for making well-informed decisions about the use of print and paper products.

For example, Two Sides publishes fact sheets that bust myths such as:

Myth: Going Paperless Saves Forests

Fact Sheet: Paper Recovery and Recycling

Fact Sheet: Wood-Based and Alternative Fiber-Based Papers

Myth: Paper is a Wasteful Product

For more information: https://twosidesna.org/

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC)

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization working to transform the consumer goods industry by partnering with leading companies to define, develop, and deliver more sustainable products.

TSC translates the science of sustainability into quantifiable metrics and practical tools for buyers and suppliers to address sustainability issues in their supply chains.  Their product sustainability toolkits enable product buyers to:

  • Compare who leads and lags in sustainability performance
  • Identify suppliers with advanced sustainability practices
  • Reveal opportunities for market advantages
  • Reduce supplier survey fatigue
  • Identify and manage high risk suppliers

The Paper, Pulp and Forestry (PPF) Sector Working Group of the TSC investigates sustainability issues for a wide-variety of forestry products, including books, greeting cards, facial tissue, lumber, and engineered wood products. The working group includes industry experts and representatives of non-profit organizations, and academic/research institutions.

The work of the PPF Sector is being used to develop Product Sustainability Toolkits for paper-based packaging.

For more information: https://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/