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Need To Know


The environment is fast becoming a top priority for businesses. Carys Evans looks at some of the planet-friendly schemes companies are organising to boost sustainability

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Plastic in the oceans is an issue for marine life

Protect the earth

Corporate sustainability, i.e the management and coordination of environmental, social and financial demands and concerns to ensure responsible, ethical and ongoing success, is quickly becoming a top priority for companies.

With the future of the earth and its oceans in a state of uncertainty and with the help of news reports and documentaries such as Planet Earth, there is now little excuse not to make an effort to be sustainable.

So what planet-friendly schemes is the print industry organising to contribute towards a more sustainable future?

Listen to your customers

HP has experienced first-hand an increase in its customers, consumers and employees becoming passionate about the environment. As a return more expectation is placed on companies like HP to make changes.

Phil Oakley, HP large-format regional business manager for UK and Ireland explains how such consumer demand motivates the company to “lead with purpose”. He says: “Sustainable impact is at the heart of HP’s reinvention, as it fuels innovation, drives growth and strengthens our business for the long-term. We’re committed to developing and delivering an environmentally sustainable product portfolio and improving the sustainability of our own global operations.

Phil Oakley, HP large-format regional business manager for UK and Ireland

“We’re reinventing the way that products are designed, manufactured, used and recovered, as well as shifting our business models and operations to a more efficient, circular and low-carbon economy.”

Oakley describes how a shift from analogue to digital production in the printing, publishing, packaging and labelling sectors has presented opportunities to reduce waste due to the elimination of printing plates, make-readies, and intensive cleaning cycles.

One of the firm’s latest planet-friendly initiatives is the transformation to water-based inks due to benefits such as low odour, easy handling and clean up, and use of prioritised, lower hazard materials making them suitable for environments such as food packaging, school signage and children’s books.

In line with this transformation the firm launched PageWide true water-based inks for corrugated packaging applications. This summer the inks received UL ECOLOGO Certification for meeting printing inks’ sustainability standard.

In June, HP launched its annual HP Sustainable Impact Report which sets out its commitments to benefit ‘the planet, people and communities’, as well as its progress on existing goals. One goal set out this year is to increase recycled content plastics across the company’s print and personal systems portfolio to 30% by 2025.

While some companies can be concerned that opting for green solutions could cause a detriment to revenue, the report showed that HP’s Sustainable Impact programmes drove more than $972m (£796m) of new revenue in 2018 – a 35% year-over-year increase.

Looking to future plans for planet-friendly schemes and initiatives, Oakley adds: “More broadly across our business, our vision for HP’s sustainable impact is to create lasting, positive change for the planet, our people and communities. We’ve set bold, measurable goals including zero deforestation associated with HP brand paper and paper-based product packaging by 2020, contributing 1.5 million cumulative employee volunteer hours by 2025, and doubling factory participation in sustainability programmes by 2025.”

Use your platform

Through its technology developments, Heidelberg has been working hard to reduce paper, energy and consumables waste. Harald Woerner, a sheetfed product manager at the firm explains how one example of this is the option for carbon neutral presses. “Printers can choose to support a ForestFirst scheme like the reforestation of Mount Damota near Sodo in Ethiopia to counter the carbon outputs involved in the manufacture of their specific press. Globally, 7% of Speedmaster XL 106 presses sold take up this option.

LED-UV on a Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 75 

“Heidelberg also has a star system which includes several peripherals designed to work with its press technology for maximum efficiency and quality but also to promote environmental good practice. They reduce energy, dampening solution, wash up solution and spray powder and create less waste.”

Woerner lists the CutStar as an example of this. The reel-to-sheet device cuts paper only to the size of the job, minimised powder emissions, reduces odour when using dispersion or UV coatings and removes waste heat generated by the drying process.

Another planet-friendly scheme the firm has to offer is its Push to Stop technology. Woerner explains: “Push to Stop or autonomous printing means that a press will keep running, operating job to job until the operator stops it. It uses the Wallscreen XL, Intellistart 2 software, Autoplate fully automatic plate changing and Inpress Control 2 colour and register control to make production lean and productive.

“The ‘stand-by’ function means energy is turned off for interruptions in printing and that can potentially take power down from 10kW to 3kW on a B1 press. If you use that function for just two hours a day you can save the energy usage of a four-person household. Speedmaster presses have the lowest energy use per 1,000 sheets on the market with highly efficient electric motors and efficient drying being a major contributing factor.”

As well as looking within the operation of a business for ways to make production and manufacture more sustainable, the good thing about having a company is the ability to use the platform to be environmentally friendly in other areas as well.

Describing one of Heidelberg’s other planet-friendly schemes, Woerner says: “Climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gasses is an important topic for the future of our planet. However, this is only part of the problem. In the last 25 years about 75% of the biomass from flying insects has disappeared.

Heidelberg has converted unused fields into vibrant living wildflower meadows to preserve biomass produced by flying insects

“Insects are the structural and functional base of the world’s ecosystem. Therefore, Heidelberg decided to convert an unused meadow with approximately 4,000sq m into a vibrant living wildflower meadow. The area is full of insects and the next step is to build habitats to allow the insects to survive the winter.”

Set the bar

Much like Heidelberg, over the years, Xeikon has taken many steps to ensure that its products and their output have the smallest possible environmental footprint. Through these efforts and with the help of on-demand printing, Xeikon has been able to reduce the environmental impact of its entire graphic chain.

Cartonboard and cardboard comes from trees grown in sustainably managed forests which means it is both renewable and fully recyclable

Dr. Lode Deprez, vice president of Technology Digital Solutions at Xeikon says: “Printed paper must be recyclable, the printing process must conserve water and use no volatile organic compounds, and the energy use and production of waste must be drastically reduced.

The printing process must conserve water and use no volatile organic compounds, and the energy use and production of waste must be drastically reduced

“Xeikon has met all of these requirements and more – both in its manufacturing processes and in the way its customers use the equipment in the field – to ensure that Xeikon and its customers are ahead of the curve in complying with environmental regulations.”

Looking to ways to make future technologies sustainable, Deprez explains how the firm’s recently announced “next generation” of toner technology was designed with environmental impact at the forefront of the company’s focus. Deprez says: “We are not going to market any new toner formulas that, in terms of food safety, performance and ecology, are a step backwards in respect to the situation today.”

Explaining why Xeikon has consciously decided not to endorse products such as chemically produced toners, Deprez says: “These toners are made in a chemical reactor and must be washed and dried after moulding. That leads to a lot of water consumption and the generation of wastewater and solvents. This method also leads to rounder toner particles with a core-shell structure, comparable to our toners, but certainly not as ecologically friendly as the choices we have made.”

Demonstrating its commitments to mitigate climate change, Metsä Board has revealed it plans to achieve fossil free mills with zero fossil C02 emissions by 2030 as part of its sustainability targets.

O Factoid: According to the World Economic Forum, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2020 O

The firm is also striving to achieve a 30% reduction in water use per product tonne and a minimum of a 10% energy efficiency improvement by the same year.

Metsä Board currently uses raw material in its paperboard production including 100% traceable wood sourced from sustainably managed Northern European forests.

Commenting on the targets, Mika Joukio, chief executive officer of Metsä Board says: “The new targets demonstrate our commitment to mitigate climate change supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Naturally this requires investment.

“Our recently announced plan to renew the Metsä Board Husum pulp mill would be a substantial step to take us towards our target of 100% fossil free production.”

No excuse

With a strong focus on corporate social responsibility, postal services provider, Adare SEC believes there is more to being a responsible company than just being perceived at green. The firm was awarded a silver rating by EcoVadis last year and has since been working towards achieving a gold rating.

Some less sustainable toners are made in a chemical reactor and must be washed and dried after moulding

Tom Prestwich, chief operations officer for Adare SEC says: “We are committed to finding new and innovative ways to enhance our sustainability further. It is essential if we are to achieve our objective of becoming one of the world’s most sustainable communications solutions companies.”

In February 2019, the firm launched a recycling project at its Huddersfield site which saw 1,500 tonnes of material being recycled and as well as a 50% reduction in waste sent to landfill. Another initiative is Adare SEC’s commitment to become the UK’s first postal services provider to use window envelopes that are 100% recyclable and biodegradable.

Prestwich continues: “Consumer expectation has changed. People expect companies to be responsible, and this is reflected by our clients’ demands who want more sustainable products and services to meet the desire of their customers.

Consumer attitudes are changing and there is a growing consensus that brands and retailers need to act and make the necessary changes

“In an increasingly digital world, we are working directly with our clients to create customisation and solutions that not only meet their business needs but are good for both people and the planet.”

While some could view the notion of being green as the potential for negative impact on business, Adare SEC sees it as an opportunity to innovate its product and services, improve business efficiency and maintain a healthy and happy workforce.

The Metsä Board Husum mill site in Sweden

“There is no business case for being an irresponsible and unsustainable company,” Prestwich says, adding: “If Adare SEC, or any company, wants to prosper in a future that will have serious challenges, then we must view the opportunity of being green as a way to improve what we do.

“We always want to innovate, and at times, this will mean being disruptive to out-of-date business practices that are unsustainable. We believe we have both the courage and agility to adapt to any challenge.”

The examples highlighted in this feature are just a few ways in which businesses can look within to its production methods and general operations and find ways to use the platform to look after the planet.

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