Wednesday, 11 Sep 2019 14:53 GMT

Recycling for Print

Whilst recycling is an obvious way to be sustainable, the variety of waste produced by the print industry means this isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds. Carys Evans finds out more

Do your bit

Adhesives, aluminium, cardboard, film, ink, plastic, packaging, solvents, wooden pallets – the list goes on. The print industry is a vast and bountiful one that covers a huge array of products. The downside to this, however, is that this wonderful industry also produces a whole lot of waste, meaning it’s not as simple as recycling a stack of paper when trying to be green.

While it can be daunting not knowing how to dispose of such a selection of waste, companies like J & G Environmental are on hand to pick up the dirty work. The firm has recently invested in “state-of-the-art” recycling technologies which allows it to dispose of more waste than ever before.

In an educational article from the firm, Jason Goddard explains: “You would be surprised how many companies still have 40-yard skips on site and are just throwing all of their waste in there, but a lot of this material can be recycled, and this is where J & G Environmental can help.

Print companies […] have ticked all the main boxes and they now need to take it a step further to see what else they can do”

“Print companies are looking at our services more and more because they have ticked all the main boxes and they now need to take it a step further to see what else they can do. They need to dig deeper in their skip to see what they can recycle.”

Begin with the source

In 1955, George May, Dufaylite’s founder pioneered and developed a form of paper honeycomb which offered “extraordinary” strength coupled with a lightweight nature. Building on his initial design, May went on to develop new industrial uses for the product including aircraft construction and mass-produced doors.

In 1955, George May, Dufaylite’s founder, pioneered its iconic paper honeycomb

Today, Dufaylite is the sole UK manufacturer of recycled paper honeycomb which is used in various industrial applications – one example is the Clayboard range which acts a sustainable void filler alternative for the construction industry.

Ashley Moscrop, managing director of Dufaylite, explains that the company has seen a shift in consumer demand for sustainable products over its 60 years in business. Moscrop says: “I would say we have definitely experienced a shift, more so recently than previous years.

“Sustainability awareness is without a doubt a modern phenomenon, with manufacturers and customers alike increasingly more aware of the importance and impact on the planet. The pressure to find alternatives and reduce the use of plastics and polystyrene is everywhere.”

While recycling can seem like the obvious way to be sustainable and protect the planet, Moscrop highlights the fact that there is quite often confusion surrounding waste in the print industry, which he blames on a lack of education on how to dispose of certain products.

Moscrop elabourates: “I believe this stems from a lack of transparency around the many different substrates being used including plastic coatings on cardboard paper products, which can make it hard for consumers to understand how and where to recycle them.

Dufaylite’s paper honeycomb is 100% recyclable, robust and can be used in a variety of ways

“As manufacturers and producers, we are responsible for being open about the products we are supplying. The industry is increasingly in demand as people choose to switch from plastic to paper but certain applications being applied to cardboard to provide moisture resistance, prevents the primarily paper-based products from being recycled via traditional routes and requires specialist channels.”

To tackle this, Moscrop says we need to reduce the use of plastic coatings and avoid creating a rise in products which require specialist routes for disposal, something he is not sure the recycling industry is not ready for. 

Use your platform

Despite a common concern for the environment, it is only since the effect we are having has been more widely publicised and the true impact has been revealed that there has been a drive in demand for businesses to be sustainable.

Blake Envelopes has risen to such demands with the launch of a new range of eco alternatives to its mailing solutions.

Michael Barter, chief executive officer of Blake Envelopes says: “At Blake, driven with a sense of responsibility and emotion, we have launched the VITA range as a complete sustainable paper solution for e-commerce postable packaging. VITA came from the drive to eliminate plastic as well as deal with ‘over packing’ by reducing excess packaging waste.

“The plastic issue is now being discussed at board level with some of the world’s biggest corporates committing to be plastic free by the end of 2020. Any company who values their brand has to be considering their packaging and answering the demand from the consumer to be sustainable in their practices.”

To tackle the issue of plastic, Blake Envelopes assessed its own contribution to this and produced a solution. “Blake as a market leader in the supply of postal packaging felt that we should do our bit by providing a large range of plastic-free postable products from stock to start making this imperative step to help cleanse our shores and seas,” Barter adds.

With online shopping becoming more and more popular amidst the struggles of highstreets and physical stores, a new issue is surfacing – the amount of packaging produced.

According to Fast Company, approximately 165 billion packages are shipped in the US each year, with the cardboard used roughly equating to more than one billion trees.

This is an issue Blake Envelopes is aware of and is determined to use its platform and resources to address. Barter explains: “It is a fact that 30% of all e-commerce could go through the letterbox however, statistics tell us that currently only 6% is posted through the letterbox. The paper envelope answers the issue of eliminating plastic from our e-commerce packaging but also answers the dilemma of over-packing.

“Hence why we are optimistic about the future of the envelope. Our commitment to this plastic-free movement is further emphasised by the fact a proportion of our VITA sales revenue is being used to support school educational programs to teach young people the negative impact single -use plastic is having on our environment.”

Spark conversation

Large-format graphic display firm, Leach is best known for its Vision lightboxes. Like Blake Envelopes, having always had an “eco conscience”, the company has developed its products with this in mind. Some examples of this include its LED lights which have been designed for energy efficiency, and its changeable wallpapers which aim to promote reusability and reduce transport costs.

The Eco-Screen is an environmental solution to Leach’s lightboxes, used for point-of-sale applications

Leach’s ‘Eco-Screen’ is one example of a product born from this research. The screen is made from a 100% recycled yarn product which can be used for front and back-lit displays – two recycled bottles can create 1sq m of material. Leach also encourages customers to return the screens for free once finished with to be recycled.

The firm has also developed the new Leach Box, on which the Eco-Screen can be used. This creates an “ultra-bright illuminated display product” which uses a flexible lightsheet as the LED backboard that can be rolled up into a small recycled tube – reducing the need to be transported in large vehicles.

Another environmental initiative is the reduction of ‘white waste’. Leach’s quality management team ensures that the maximum area of each roll of material is used in a bid to reduce its own waste. In doing this, the company is currently achieving a recycling rate of 98%.

James Lavin, managing director of Leach explains that as well as this, the firm has taken additional steps more recently. “Aware of the environmental credentials that companies are expected to meet, Leach has taken a step further, inviting customers to take part in a series of ‘innovation forums’ throughout the year.

“These open debate sessions allow clients to put forward their concerns and requirements for future products, and as a customer-focused business, this has helped Leach to work with these organisations to shape its research and development,” he says.

As the issue of cost can sometimes put a halt on companies trying to be green, Leach has developed its range of eco solutions to cause no detriment to users. This is something the firm hopes will help to encourage others to opt for greener alternatives.

Factoid: Recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution was found in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species examined. O

Lavin says: “There are still businesses out there playing catch-up, as for some of them the need to ‘be green’ is a very new concept although it is slowly starting to become ‘the norm’. It isn’t just about looking at recyclable materials – it’s going one stage further and producing a return-to-base model.

In a move that the firm hopes will encourage more companies to explore greener methods within their businesses, Leach is launching a samples book featuring its entire range of eco products. Reflecting on its products to date, Lavin describes the company’s efforts as “continuing the trend of more environmentally-conscious businesses”.

Whilst 30% of e-commerce can fit through a letterbox, only 6% is posted through due to over packaging
The initiatives and products mentioned in this feature are just a few examples of the ways in which businesses can think outside the box and become greener. It doesn’t need to be a daunting task involving the complete reshaping of a company’s operations – simply making some small, creative tweaks can help to reduce a firm’s footprint, as well as enable it to meet the demands of environmentally conscious consumers as the trend of being green continues to grow.