Wednesday, 18 Sep 2019 16:15 GMT

Print goes green at The Print Show

With so many exhibitors taking a focus on how their products and practices can reduce the print industry’s impact on the environment, it’s easy to see why they have had such a positive response from visitors.

With increasing pressure for all industries to get their acts together for the environment and the effects of the climate crisis, it’s having a knock on effect for clients who need to show their customers how they are minimising their impact and contributing to a more circular economy whereby waste is utilised in an environmentally friendly way.

One such company that has been working on that solution in tandem with waste specialist Blue Castle, is Soyang Europe. Gary Howe, innovations manager at Blue Castle Group, explains how much its PVC recycling scheme is a welcome solution for the print industry: “We saw a major problem with PVC residual not being recycled correctly. This material takes 250 years to biodegrade and it can cause issues for the environment. We decided to take the lead and sort this out. 

“We are contentious and when you get plastics like this that don’t biodegrade then landfills will subside and this material will come forth. It’s 500 tonnes a month of this material and 180 tonnes of polyester a month that doesn’t find any use. It’s a long job and it’s taken us a few years to sort, but that’s where we’ve come from – we just want to help.

“Blue Castle is a small company and we’re growing but we have innovation and ideas coming out of our ears. We had to get a stand to put [our scheme] forward because nobody knows.” 

Andrew Simmons, sales director at Soyang Europe, adds that the industry is desperate for a solution. “So much waste goes into landfill especially from exhibition markets and retail markets where PVC is probably the most suitable substrate for printing for outdoor use and it needs a solution. We all need to work it – improve the environment and recycle banner materials. 

“We launched the scheme yesterday and we had a very good reception - we’re very pleased with day one. From the moment the doors opened at 10am we had people coming to the stand expressing an interest.” 

Elsewhere in Hall 9, Premier Paper was on hand to promote its small-format digital products, display graphics for signage and its Carbon Capture programme which offers its customers a chance to capture the CO2 emission from their paper purchase by planting native woodland, in partnership with the Woodland Trust and the Woodland Carbon scheme. 

Dave Jones, group marketing director, explains why he has been surprised by the show: “I must admit, it is exceeding my expectations. I was hoping that it would be okay –  it turned out to be good yesterday. Potential customers have come along, interested to see the stand and the products we’re featuring. Another added benefit is we’ve been having conversations with potential suppliers as well – all of a sudden they’re very interested in us.”  

Dr Liz Wilks, European sustainability and stakeholder director at Asia Pulp and Paper and visiting professor across the globe in sustainability and global packaging supply chains, came to the show to meet with people in her supply chain.

She comments: “I think this is a great show for people to come together. In the age of digitalisation, I think we all take the time to do things over email and by phone, but nothing quite substitutes coming to touch and feel and see the actual print techniques in action and meet the people that you’re working with and this is a great place to do that.”

Wilks believes that the print industry is being presented with a unique opportunity in the big plastics debate. “I think as a paper and board industry we have the opportunity in terms of looking at alternatives to plastics. 

“It’s also a challenge to work with other raw material suppliers where biodegradable films are needed that they can be separated at end-of-life  and really I do think this is an opportunity for the print industry. Traditional print has the opportunity now in a growing industry for food packaging.”
 
The Print Show is at the NEC in Birmingham until the September 19th, from 10am until 4pm.