Author Archive

  • Environment ‘not a cool topic’ for business

    At the recent DSCOOP in Vienna (pictured), a chat-fest for users of HP Indigo technologies, HP and partner conversations were many. Participants were keen and even passionate. to share, confident that they were in the right environment for doing so. It’s not as if people forgot that they were amongst potential competitors, but there was a fantastic atmosphere of sharing and learning. It was really quite uplifting, but it was also clear that too few players in the graphics industry have the confidence to talk about sustainability with a straight face. It’s almost as if the environment is not a cool topic for serious business people.

    “Think of ignorance as an opportunity’: Laurel Brunner, sustainability consultant & MD Digital Dots. 

    This really must change, because print service providers are the front line when it comes to correcting the uninformed view that print is bad for the environment. That’s the easy part. Far more intractable is the problem that too many graphics professionals are reluctant to talk about sustainability because they aren’t equipped for the conversation.

    This isn’t surprising because people tend not to see environmental protection as their problem. Worse, people don’t want to sound like tree-hugging hippies, so they are reluctant to talk about sustainability. Egos aside, the conversation is hard because the language is unfamiliar and the references for the environmental vocabulary mostly obscure. How many print service providers are comfortable with a conversation about the carbon footprint of a particular print job? Not many. How many will be able to respond to questions about ISO standards relevant for the graphics industry in general and environmental impact in particularly? Even fewer.

    But does it matter? Do business owners in the print sector have to face this possibly steep learning curve? Yes, it matters because sustainability is everyone’s responsibility and the future of the graphics industry depends on its environmental accountability as much as any other industry sector. And it matters because there are companies across the globe where the conversations about environmental impact are increasingly the rule, rather than the exception.

    How you start that conversation depends on the clients you work with and your own knowledge. Think of ignorance as an opportunity. Share with customers what you want to achieve with them, and take it from there. As painful as it might be, try to read about sustainability in the graphics business, the standards you can use and the sustainability policies of big brand owners such as Unilever, Diageo, IKEA and H&M. It’s not a difficult conversation to have, but talking sustainability does require you to have something to say and the confidence to say it. Otherwise the conversations will happen without you.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

     

  • Making textile printing more sustainable

    EFI at FESPA.

    The history of textile printing is a history of innovation, from transferring colours to substrates with carved woodblocks to digitally printed fabrics. In between such bespoke options are a slew of industrial processes that produce all manner of textiles from linens and curtains through to couture garments and t-shirts. The reversion to technologies that allow us to have custom clothes and interiors is creating all sorts of opportunities for new businesses, mostly driven by e-commerce.

    Digital press and colorant innovations are starting to seriously disrupt the textile business. This is a good thing because conventional textile production is a seriously resource intensive manufacturing process. FESPA research suggests that this market is worth $165 billion. Over 30 billion square metres of textiles are printed worldwide, most of it in China and India unsurprisingly. As populations grow and incomes rise, we can expect more and more textile printing opportunities. This is why graphics industry manufacturers are so keen to get into the sector.

    Textile printing was an obvious trend at the recent FESPA show in Berlin. EFI has had its eye on this sector for a number of years, and through its purchase of Reggiani some years ago has over 60% of the direct to garment and apparel market. Around 60% of this is garments with interiors (furnishings) and industrial textile printing accounting for the balance. At FESPA the company introduced a textile pigment ink technology for direct to textile printing.

    The new process involves inline polymerisation and uses less water and energy to produce a print, which it does very quickly. The printed fabrics need no washing or steaming and EFI claims that the process works on a wide range of fibres.

    We can expect more such innovations in the sector as the market for bespoke textiles and clothes expands. HP has its sights on the textile printing opportunity and Mimaki is well established in this part of the market.

    Whether we should expect the printing community to embrace this technology or whether it will be the fashion industry that gets there first, it’s too early to say. Epson has seen the design community embrace inhouse production. And the shift towards ever faster fashion suggests there may be opportunities for digital press manufacturers to capture a whole new market, one that operates far from conventional print.

    – Laurel Brunner

    The Verdigris project is an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. It provides a weekly commentary to help printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. 

    Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa GraphicsEFIEpson, FespaHPKodakKornit, RicohSpindrift, Splash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

  • Water based inks “corrosive” in testing

    Imagination, ideas and technological innovation are what progress is all about. We care about what we understand, what we know, so we generally focus only on what directly impacts us. It is time for this narrow view to change. When it comes to graphics industry inventions that reduce impacts on the environment, we must start thinking bigger as well as thinking different. New technologies for reducing environmental impact cannot be considered in isolation. What improves a carbon footprint in one way might make it much worse in another.

    This is why it is so important to consider all aspects of a machine or system’s performance when investing. In the printing business, it is particularly urgent. A press for instance may use water based inks which are considered to be less environmentally hostile than solvent based ones. But if those inks require more energy to dry, they may not be such an improvement after all.

    Water based inks may also have a negative effect on the press itself. A large packaging provider in Scandinavia has run extensive tests and found that water can be corrosive to metals in the press. Tests found that excess copper and other metals were transferred to the cleaning materials, which did not happen with solvent based inks. The conclusion was that “water attacks the press in a way that solvents do not”. This does not mean that we should abandon water based inks in favour of solvents. But it illustrates the need for more understanding of what’s going on. We need far more comprehensive evaluations of the environmental impacts of technological advances.

    Balance is very hard to strike if we are to manage environmental impacts effectively. It can only be established on the basis of verifiable, consistent, comprehensive and repeatable data, so much more investment is needed into data collection and analyses. We must not make claims about environmental friendliness on the basis of a single and isolated data set, as this amounts to the ultimate in greenwashing. The graphics industry has some tools available to it for data collection, but not enough. We should be looking more closely at all parts of graphics production, from prepress through to distribution, so that the industry can develop datasets to confirm its sustainability claims.

    This requires all manufacturers of machinery, software, substrates and consumables to take a much broader view of sustainability. The big players have equally big responsibilities. We need lifecycle thinking, starting with raw materials, manufacturing processes, application, use and end of life. Fresh approaches to recycling, especially by the sclerotic paper industry would also help a great deal.

    The scale of sustainability concerns facing graphics professionals are huge. But with a more holistic approach to environmental thinking, the long-term future of the graphics business can be assured.

    The Verdigris project is an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. It provides a weekly commentary to help printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. 

    Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa GraphicsEFIEpson, FespaHPKodakKornit, RicohSpindrift, Splash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

     

  • Australian publishers lead on sustainability

    It should be a normal expectation that companies would choose to police their own sustainability performance. And yet we still cannot manage to do it on any sort of realistic scale. This is dangerous for the graphics industry, because the alternative is regulation by external entities. We already see this in restrictions on chemical usage and the disposal of waste.

    However, self-regulation can be very successful, especially if it is done on a large scale and in partnership with government. The topic was recently discussed at a meeting of the Global Product Stewardship Council in Australia. The Australian government’s department of the Environment and Energy hosted this forum in order to better understand the various product stewardship and responsibility programmes operating in the country. The idea of this consultation exercise was to help the government to get sufficient information for a review of its Product Stewardship Act, so that it could be updated to be more current.

    The consultation provided practical insights to the Australian government across industries, including publishing. A wide range of speakers contributed, mainly coming down on the side of regulation. A lot of the speakers represented organisations with a vested interest in a rules-based system. If there are laws to abide by, there is an opportunity for providing the services required to ensure legal compliance. Investment in the relevant processes and plant can be more confidently made because the law requires compliance guaranteeing a steady flow of customers and revenues.

    But the idea of regulation for the common good or as a means of creating business opportunities is not universally popular. A group of Australian newspaper and magazine publishers tend to the self-regulatory end of the spectrum. They have been working in partnership with the government for a number of years to avoid it. The National Environmental Sustainability Agreement (NESA) is a voluntary agreement between the Australia’s government, major magazine and newspaper publishers and Norske Skog Australasia, the country’s leading newsprint and magazine paper maker. Norske Skog is also the top processor and user of post-consumer waste newspapers and magazines in Australia. The publishers involved are News Corp Australia, Fairfax Media, Seven West Media, Pacific Magazines, APN News and Media, and Bauer Media Group. Together they are committed to recycle 77% of newspaper products.

    A key principle of this agreement is that no legislation is required and that “Publishers also commit to advancing recycling, purchasing newsprint with recycled content and providing $1,000,000 advertising space to governments to promote recycling. The industry signatories will provide transparent and reliable annual data on the performance of this agreement.”

    NESA started in 1992 and is reviewed every five years. Since it came into force Australia’s recycling rate has risen from 28% to 78%. But over the last five years’ newsprint consumption in Australia has fallen by around 40%, so it is not clear what the NESA will look like if it is renewed after the current agreement expires in 2020. Whatever its future, NESA has set a benchmark for environmental agreements between publishers and governments. Australia is leading the way in its environmental partnerships and its approach deserves a closer look.

    The Verdigris project is an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. It provides a weekly commentary to help printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. 

    Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa GraphicsEFIEpson, FespaHPKodakKornit, RicohSpindrift, Splash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon.

  • Solvent inks under increasing scrutiny

    The packaging industry is ripe for disruption, especially when it comes to inks. The sector’s in the sights of digital press manufacturers, print service providers and print buyers. And consumers want to feel better about using packaging that cannot easily be recycled. They don’t want to be responsible for generating waste, but if they do so, they want to believe that it won’t hurt the environment. Ink science is moving forwards to help balance and resolve the industry’s various concerns, but it isn’t moving particularly fast.

    Sustainability consultant Laurel Brunner, MD Digital Dots.

    Improving packaging’s recyclability is not an easy problem to solve. Packaging printers serve diverse markets and ink science must meet many challenges, in addition to fulfilling printing speed and drying performance requirements. In the food packaging sector for instance inks must be free of toxins and not affect the flavour of the food. The flavour of chocolate is apparently very vulnerable to ink ingredients, hence the complexity of its packaging. Packaging substrates and inks must be fit for purpose and meet performance expectations. Like the substrates, the inks must not compromise the portability of the package or its printed communications. The inks mustn’t flake or rub off, nor can they be vulnerable to temperature extremes. In some customer applications, it must be possible to freeze and heat the package and its contents. There are also the matters of antimicrobial properties, an ink’s resistance to the effects of ingredients such as grease and acids and to the elements, indoors and out.

    For all of these reasons, solvent inks have been preferred for packaging production but printers are under pressure to shift away from such inks. These inks perform well but they contain a lot of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), compared to water based inks which are considered to be more environmentally benign.

    Printers wanting to work with water based inks face a long wait. Water based inks rarely perform as well on press as solvent based ones. The press has to run more slowly when printing water based inks which are also temperamental on nonabsorbent materials such as films. By definition they contain lots of water so they do not dry easily or quickly compared to their solvent based counterparts. All of these limitations reduce production throughput.

    Those printing companies responsible for producing the bulk of packaging print are under pressure, not least from competing print processes. This includes digital printing technologies, which are increasingly viable alternatives for various packaging applications. What happens next for this sector is up to the ink developers and the direction they take in research and development. Let’s hope the wait for more environmentally friendly options won’t be too long.

    – Laurel Brunner

    The Verdigris project is an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. It provides a weekly commentary to help printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. 

    Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa GraphicsEFIEpson, FespaHPKodakKornit, RicohSpindrift, Splash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon.

  • NZ printer wins Kodak environmental award

    Southern Colour Print at Turakina Road, Dunedin, NZ.

    Every year Kodak recognises printers around the world for their sustainability progress. To qualify for the Kodak Sonora Plate Green Leaf Award printing companies must use the Kodak Sonora processless plate and manage their businesses in a way that reduces overall environmental impact. In 2017, the fourth year of the prize, there were fourteen winners from all over the world. This is a record number and suggests that the sustainability message is beginning to get through.

    Processless printing plates require no chemical processing and cut the amount of water, energy and waste associated with conventional plates. Kodak is seeing growing demand for its Sonora plates around the world and expects that by 2019 30% of the company’s plate sales will be of processless plates.

    The 2017 Sonora Plate Green Leaf Award winners are: Alcom Printing (US), Mitchell Press Ltd. (Canada), Druckerei Lokay (Germany), School Lane Colour Press (UK), Litotec (Ecuador), Cartocor S.A. (Argentina), Southern Colour Print (New Zealand), Colour King (South Africa), Zühal Ofset (Turkey), ASCON CO., LTD. (Japan), Hongbo Co., Ltd. (China), Golden Cup Printing Co., Ltd. (China), Changsung P&T Co., Ltd. (Korea), and Vivar Printing Sdn Bhd. (Malaysia). All of these companies have introduced measures that improve resource management and energy efficiency in the business.

    Waste management improvements are the most common effort, but firms are doing other things as well. All of them for instance are proactive recyclers to some extent or another and some, such as Cartocar in Argentina ensure that materials are sustainably sourced too. Alcom Printing in the US and Changsung P&T Co in Korea have introduced LED lighting throughout their facilities. Many companies including Ascon in Japan and Golden Cup Printing in China have invested in new equipment to be more energy efficient.

    Kodak Sonora plate.

    These winners are also implementing advanced training and compliance programs to improve overall efficiency and environmental impact. Many were also involved in local sustainability initiatives working with their communities to encourage recycling for instance. Richard Rindo, Kodak’s general manager of worldwide sales for the company’s print systems division, said that “it’s clear that the printing industry’s adoption of sustainable business solutions is not only about good environmental stewardship, it’s about sustaining and growing each printer’s business.”

    The printing industry’s response to charges that it is dirty and inefficient has been to clean up its act and to move to more efficient processes. For most printers, this has been as much about saving the business as it is about saving the planet. However, there is no denying that environmental sustainability and commercial sustainability go hand in hand. Prizes such as Kodak’s Sonora Plate Green Leaf award are a great way to recognise this and to raise awareness of the business case for sustainability.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

  • Plastic bans could create opportunities

    First China and now Europe are taking big steps to clean up the environment. Their initiatives could create opportunities in the graphics industry, or be another nail in the sector’s coffin. Opportunities are there if brand owners and packaging printers get involved and take the lead in the recycling debate. Banning materials because they are hard to recycle should be a prompt to supply chains to be more innovative in the materials they use and in their recycling. A public awareness campaign as to which plastics can be recycled and how, would be a good start.

    Plastics are part of a larger conversation. China has banned imports of foreign recyclable material as part of its initiative to stop “yang laji” or “foreign trash” coming into China. The ban applies to 24 categories of waste and includes textiles as well as plastics and mixed paper.

    In 2017, 7.3m metric tonnes of waste plastics was shipped to China for use in manufacturing from developed economies including the UK, the EU, the US and Japan. China is the world’s largest manufacturer and it imported more waste for recycling than any other country. China is instead working on its own recycling procedures. The rest of the world can no longer sell recyclates to China and will need to develop new recycling business models. According to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection,“we found that large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials. This polluted the environment seriously.”

    And the European Union (EU) which has until lately sent 87% of the plastic it collects for recycling to China, is also taking positive steps. The EU wants all plastic in its community to be recyclable or reusable by 2030. Currently only 30% of the 25 million tonnes generated is collected for recycling or incineration. The EU strategy is considering taxes, modernising plastics production and investment of €350 million into research that also covers new approaches to collection. This should be an opportunity for the packaging industry and the companies supplying it to come up with clever ideas for solving quality control and process management problems and to offer technological innovation.

    Taxation requires impact assessments and lengthy discussions about how and who to tax, so nothing will happen overnight. Taxation is essentially a license to avoid good practise, which has been part of the problem all along. But by EU standards 2030 is not so very far away. For Frans Timmermans, the EU’s vice president, the immediate target is single-use plastics and changing peoples’ behaviour. He points out that “single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again”.

    Stuff that takes ages to biodegrade or simply doesn’t biodegrade includes plastic straws, cutlery including stirrers, lids, cups, and various other types of containers and packaging. By 2030 the EU wants 55% of all plastic to be recycled. This will impact graphics technologies such as digital presses and finishing system, which will have to be able to process new materials. Printing companies will have to invest in new technologies if they want to keep brand customers on side. Now is the time to act.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

     

  • Paper packaging versus plastic 

    There is a lot of chat going around as to the negative impact of plastic packaging on the environment. On the one hand, there’s eight million tonnes of the stuff floating malignant and unopposed in the oceans. And on the other, plastic is a very effective packaging material, especially for keeping food fresh and uncontaminated. It also extends its shelf life and it’s useful for displaying goods and for making carrier bags. Proponents of plastic packaging for bottles, bags, wrappers, tubs and trays will tell you this and they also claim that if some other material, such as metal or paper were used instead of plastic that overall emissions in terms of energy and greenhouse gases, would rise.

    It’s hard to get reliable data that supports this, but it’s true that plastic doesn’t weigh much so it doesn’t add a lot to transport costs and the associated emissions. It’s also durable and reliable so food waste is minimised: think loose versus plastic wrapped grapes. However, it’s also true that many products sold wrapped in plastic don’t need protection: think coconuts and rutabagas (swedes). The benefits of plastic are many, but there is no getting away from the fact that it is overused and that there are alternatives that have less of a negative impact on the environment.

    Paper companies such as Stora Enso and Sappi have made big strides in developing equivalent alternatives based on wood pulp, a renewable resource which also happens to offer an excellent carbon capture method. Trees not only capture carbon but they also consume it via photosynthesis, a process that also produces oxygen as a waste byproduct. Paptic has been developed by a Finnish start-up and it could replace both paper and plastic. This paper-based material is fully recyclable and is compatible with existing packaging lines. Its developers say that it’s “the next generation of paper with all the benefits of paper combined with the critical properties of plastics like heat sealability.”

    In response to such initiatives and to consumer worries, much has been done within the plastic industry to improve the material’s environmental impact. Plastic is mostly made from oil, so it is not easy to recycle. But some plastics can be recycled into new plastics and the rest can be incinerated to generate energy, assuming the stuff is collected in the first place. The recyclability or otherwise of plastic depends on its composition and the complexity of polymers involved: the fewer for instance in bottles, the better. Packages made from mixed ingredients are harder to turn into raw materials for new products.

    In the UK, where households generate 1.7 million tonnes of packaging waste annually, work is being done to reduce waste plastics to their components so that these chemicals can be reused. This work is still in its early stages, and in the meantime plastic continues to pollute the oceans and waterways.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

  • Measuring power usage of digital printers

    Equipment buyers these days make their investment decisions based on various criteria. They consider the overall capital cost, the cost of finance, monthly service charges, consumables costs, support and space. They will also try to factor in the energy cost of a piece of kit, if that is possible.

    ISO has recently completed a new standard that indeed makes this possible. Jointly authored by FOGRA, the German Research Institute for Media Technologies and Ricoh Europe, one of the graphics industry’s most active sustainability supporters, this document has now been published. ISO 20690 (Graphic technology — Determination of the operating power consumption of digital printing devices) does exactly what it says on the tin. The document simplifies and makes more accurate the process of determining energy usage for digital presses. This will make it far simpler to compare the operating costs of these devices, as well as their overall carbon footprint. The new standard is a natural partner to ISO 16759 (Graphic technology — Quantification and communication for calculating the carbon footprint of print media products) which was developed in the same ISO committee as ISO 20690.

    Calculation of energy usage is commonly made on the basis of a device’s connected load. The connected load is the total load, measured in watts, of components connected to a machine’s electricity supply system. This includes interface panels, on/off lights, onboard computers and so on, and they get included in an energy calculation even if they are not operating. This means that a connected load calculation is not particularly accurate or precise, nor does it make for fair comparisons.

    ISO 20690 takes instead the demand load approach, so that calculations are based on the actual amount of electrical load on an electrical circuit. Using ISO 20690 owners as well as manufacturers can accurately establish the actual energy usage of a digital printer. This makes it much easier to compare the energy footprints of different digital printing devices. Jonny Dörig Product Manager Digital at Gallus Ferd a label and general print provider in Switzerland, has already implemented ISO 20690 and told us that “the new ISO 20690 has… enabled us to simply and quickly capture the energy efficiency of our printing system.”

    ISO 20690 is intended for use in digital printing systems designed to run a single job over a long time period, so it is particularly relevant for book and transactional printing systems. Its requirements are based on calculating the kilowatt hours required to print 1000 A4 sheets, using a standard test sheet. In following the requirements in this document, it is expected that operating costs will be more accurate and that this information will aid investment planning. Also, manufacturers will have benchmark figures against which they can compare the energy usage of new technologies. ISO 20690 will also be handy in geographies such as Germany, where subsidies are available for companies investing in more energy efficient equipment.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

  • The price of eco printing

    Publishers tend to know what they want to publish, although they may not know how they want it printed. It’s a step too far to care about the production of a book or magazine, when you’re tearing out your hair to get the content and sales projections right. This is unsurprising: production and printing are someone else’s outsourced problem.

    Laurel Brunner

    Over thirty years ago, technology made it easier for content creators to get their stuff published. The introduction of desktop publishing (DtP) revolutionised the graphics business, leading to widespread disruption and increased awareness of print’s various dirty secrets. The DtP revolution came about because of technology, but also because the prepress and printing industries were ripe for change. Change has continued to characterise the graphics industry ever since, to the point where small publishers such as Unbound, which chooses what to publish using a crowd funding model, are gaining prominence in today’s printing and publishing landscape

    The first Apple Macintosh, a product Steve Jobs notoriously prioritised at the cost of other Apple projects, started the DtP revolution. We were fortunate to have had hands on experience with early Mac models, which smiled engagingly at you from a miniscule screen while booting up. We had had experience with the Xerox Star so the Windows, Ikons, Mouse and Pointing techniques used in the Mac’s graphical user interface were familiar. And having messed about with high end page layout and composition tools, the delights of Aldus PageMaker (the first desktop page layout software) were also relatively familiar. Except that this smiling little box was a machine with a price tag at a fraction of what professional systems cost.

    Adobe’s PostScript page description language unified text and graphics into a single output stream, processing rasters to screen and printer. And thanks to the incorporated Linotype fonts, gorgeous typeset pages could be output. Pages could be viewed on screen and printed with the Apple LaserWriter, the first desktop printer able to print true fonts at 300 dpi. Linotype’s Linotronic 300 was the first typesetter to accept PostScript input for 2400 dpi output, sufficient for film and platemaking. It was the beginning of the end for conventional prepress and publishing. DtP technologies created a process awareness and encouraged everyone to use typography and composition in their communications. They laid the foundation for greater awareness of printing and the negatives associated with volume production and waste.

    Today the conversation between publishers and printers needs to move on. Publishers have the power to determine how green the printing industry can be. As with any service industry printers mostly rely on customers for their direction. Publishers can dictate for instance that they want printing to take place close to distribution points; they can require printers to use technology with reduced energy, water and materials use throughout the print cycle; they can specify the use of recycled paper and vegetable based inks, and choose to commission companies with zero waste to landfill policies. Sustainable print is in the hands of publishers, large and small, if they are willing to accept that such an approach will come at a price, it’s a price worth paying.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

  • Kodak’s cryptocurrency ‘revolution’

    Great news for one of the graphics industry’s best supporters of environmental sustainability. Kodak has entered into a partnership with Wenn Digital to build and launch an image rights management platform for photographers. Wenn is a blockchain developer and the platform Wenn has developed is called KodakOne. The associated cryptocurrency is KodakCoin, a delightful echo of Kodachrome for the digital age. The launch of KodakOne and KodakCoin confirm Kodak as the industry’s leading photographic company.

    KodakOne is designed specifically for photographers. This image rights management platform is based on a blockchain, a distributed and secure database technology. Content blocks are added to the database, which resides on multiple distributed servers and each block is specifically linked to the preceding block, hence blockchain. Blocks cannot be changed without messing up the link to the preceding and following blocks, so it would take an entire network of participants to corrupt a single block in the chain. This is the data management principle that makes an encrypted digital ledger secure. Blockchain technology is a foundation for secure digital data management systems and KodakOne is such a platform. It is the first of its kind for the graphics industry.

    The KodakOne platform stores new and archived images, so that their use can be monitored and licensed. It uses webcrawler technology to continually monitor the web in search of images registered in its blockchain. When it finds them it confirms licenses and automatically pursues and processes license fees and any copyright infringements. Payments are made in KodakCoin, Kodak’s image specific cryptocurrency. Agencies and photographers can therefore use KodakCoin to monetise their work.

    The most obvious reason for this being good news for print’s sustainability, is that the move has improved Kodak’s finances, which will help it to continue with its sterling environmental work. The company’s shares jumped by well over four hundred percent when KodakOne was announced and have since settled to a three-fold improvement, suggesting much more market confidence in the company. The second reason is that the KodakOne platform is just such a brilliant idea. Not only does it provide copyright protection for photographers, the market where Kodak’s fortunes were originally made. It also solves one of the biggest concerns of the digital age: monetising digital content. With KodakOne, photographers and designers have a platform for their images which ensures that the images are used legally and in an accountable way.

    The KodakOne platform and KodakCoin are currently specific to images and KodakCoins are traded within a tightly controlled environment dedicated to photographers. But the platform and the cryptocurrency could easily expand to include other forms of creative work, such as text. KodakOne could be a foundation for a completely new approach to content commerce in the graphics industry. It’s nothing short of a revolution. Thank you, Kodak!

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

  • Eco-regulators test printed products

    It’s hard enough getting to grips with carbon footprinting, but that is only a small part of the environmental impact calculation. In 2018, regulators and shareholders in mature markets are sharpening their focus on the life-cycle environmental impacts of products. This will impact all parts of the graphics supply chain, from design to procurement. At least it will in markets where political leaders take seriously their environmental responsibilities, such as China and the European Union.

    Taking a more robust approach to life-cycle environmental impacts will not be easy: the process is complicated and unfamiliar so it involves time and effort. It also involves a steep learning curve which will be difficult for many companies operating in the graphics industry. There are tools available to help and large organisations such as HP, Kodak and Ricoh with a history of environmental commitment are already on track. ISO 14025 is one of the tools available. This standard lays out the principles and procedures for developing environmental declaration schemes, whereby data relating to a product and its life-cycle are collected.

    An Environmental Product Declaration (EPDs) is an environmental declaration that meets the requirements of ISO 14025. An EPD confirms that all relevant life-cycle environmental data has been collected in accordance with the requirements set out in the standard. EPDs are voluntary declarations that can be fairly compared because they are based on common requirements, so they can be used in a competitive context. Manufacturers serving the graphics industry can use EPDs to communicate product life-cycle impact information, but also to distinguish their products in the market.

    There will obviously be a cost associated with doing this, not least for training people so that they understand what an EPD is and why it matters. Other costs will be in time and resources to collect the data, which can be considerable for complex products such as printing presses. But these declarations and the associated investment matter: EPDs are independently verified which enhances their commercial and competitive value. When based on the same reference product types, EPDs can be used to directly compare the life-cycle environmental impact of those products. This could be for printing plates, presses, inks or publishing and production systems, although these last two could be a bit of a challenge.

    But for printers and publishers developing EPDs for printed products, the process is relatively simple. An EPD for print would clearly demonstrate that a printed product has a positive life-cycle environmental impact: it can readily be recycled, and you don’t need any energy to use it. This much we know. More important is the development of EPDs for production equipment and that is the challenge for 2018.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

  • 2018’s ‘window of opportunity’: Brunner

    What should the graphics industry expect for 2018? This is easy to answer: more of the same. It would be great to hint at exciting new technologies waiting just around the corner. Or to share with you some amazing new business models for print and publishing. But in fact, the graphics industry is awash with new technologies and examples of how to apply them. The problem is that there is still so much reluctance to get with the programme and to fully embrace digital processes and ideas.

    Laurel Brunner

    Caution with new technologies is not unique to the graphics industry, but it is a particularly acute problem for graphics professionals. The reluctance to use information technologies to drive the business, for process control and for data analytics is common amongst the small and medium sized businesses that make up so much of the commercial printing landscape. This is as much a cultural concern as it is a business worry, but until we start trusting the data more and the ink ducts less, more of the same is actually a very good thing: it means more time before the next big upheaval. For technology and applications, it creates opportunities for businesses to catch up with how their customers and their customers’ customers use data.

    The window of opportunity exists in the context of rising consumer awareness of what going paperless really means. After years of banging on about print’s sustainability, we are finally beginning to see some appreciation of the massive impact that electronic media and communications have on the environment. In his Bruno Kessler Lecture last year, Roberto Viola, Director-General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology at the European Commission pointed out that “European based data centres consumed more than 104TWh per annum in 2015, representing 3% of total electricity.” A terawatt hour is one million watt hours and you probably used a single kilowatt hour watching television at the weekend. If you ate a couple of large pies for lunch, you may have consumed the equivalent of say 1000 calories or 0.0011 watt hours. A single watt hour takes one million calories, which adds up to about 2,000 pies. Just picture the pile of pies equivalent to a single terawatt hour!

    Pies aside, the point here is that our online lives consume enormous amounts of energy. For communications data, much of which is redundant because it’s backed up all over the planet, that means massive waste and superfluous energy usage. There can be no wholesale abandonment of electronic communications, but rising awareness of just how much energy they take will drive new ideas for media and communications and smarter approaches to energy generation and usage. Perhaps that’s what we should expect for 2018.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

  • EU to tighten plastic packaging rules

    Since drupa 2016 and even prior to that show, there has been a lot of interest in packaging printing. Several manufacturers have introduced digital presses for this application, most notable EFI and HP. Printers can be confident that they will have solid support if they decide to get into this business. But all parties should be aware of the tightening regulatory framework and in Europe this means the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD).

    The PPWD has recently been reviewed and it is likely that the 22.5% recycling target for plastic packaging will be increased when the EU publishes its update. The increase is part of the EU’s drive towards green development and circular economies. We can only expect these targets to get more restrictive over time.

    More than any other print application, design matters for packaging. Graphic designers not only have to think about colours and content placement, but they must also take into account functionality, the nature of the package contents and how the packaged goods will be transported. Designers also need to think about their choice of inks and substrates and how well the materials can be expected to perform at extremes of temperature and pressure. For graphic designers to also factor in regulatory compliance, recycling and environmental impact makes packaging design even more of a challenge.

    The European Federation of Bottled Waters (EFBW), the European Association of Plastic Recycling and Recovery Organizations (EPRO), Petcore Europe, Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) and the European non-alcoholic beverages association (UNESDA) are trying to help. They obviously want to encourage responsible use of plastics and to ensure that packaging materials comply with the PPWD. Together they have come up with the European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP) which consists of a group of technical experts operating across Europe. The experts evaluate new technologies and use proprietary test procedures to assess impacts on PET recycling processes. The tests confirm whether or not a PET bottle can be recycled without causing any difficulties, such as discoloration, during the recycling process. The platform can also be used to measure the environmental impact other forms of packaging, particularly those involving recycled PET materials.

    The EPBP also supports packaging designers who need to design for PET so that it can be recycled. They must for instance consider the use of additives and barrier materials, and the recyclability of label substrates and ink deinkability. The EPBP has developed guidelines (see http://www.epbp.org/design-guidelines) for how to design the body, cap and label of a bottle, according to average expectations for recycling. Given that plastic bottles are such a widespread source of pollution, this can only be a positive step and one that could soon apply to other forms of packaging such as films and flexibles.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

  • Kodak focused on zero waste printing

    Kodak Sonora processless plates.

    For Kodak, reborn and re-energised, sustainability in every sense has become the company’s foundation. According to its recently published 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report (CRR), the first since 2013 when the company had just emerged from Chapter 11, Kodak aims to be the leading company for sustainability in the graphics industry. It has published some ambitious future goals and in doing so sets a standard not just for graphics technology manufacturers, but for large companies in other sectors too.

    Laurel Brunner.

    Kodak expects all of its sites worldwide to be zero waste to landfill facilities by 2025. By then Kodak will have reduced GHG emissions and water consumption from worldwide Kodak operations by 25%, compared to a 2016 baseline. New product developments are expected to aid Kodak customers to make similarly meaningful reductions. These are ambitious goals, especially since they are based on 2016 values, rather than earlier years when Kodak was much larger and its environmental footprint much heavier.

    For customers, the Kodak Prosper digital printing technology, including the S-Series for hybrid printing applications uses, water based inks containing minimal Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), so they can be classified as nonhazardous waste. These inks also use 80% less solids by weight compared to offset inks and over 90% of the total weight of Prosper printhead components is reclaimed and remanufactured. Kodak recently introduced a new Image Optimiser Station (IOS) that printers can use themselves to treat a wide variety of papers for inkjet printing. Patented Optimiser Agents are applied as a layer less than 500 nm thick and when ink is deposited on this layer, pigment particles in the Prosper inks instantly immobilise and bind to the paper’s surface. This provides considerable scope for using all sorts of paper types for digital printing and eases deinkability and recycling.

    Kodak saw a 9% growth in sales volumes of Sonora processless plates in 2016 and a 16% sales growth for its Flexcel NX flexo plates. Kodak has also achieved a reduction of imaging system power consumption of up to 95% for some of its imaging systems.

    Another key objective is to triple recovery of spent solvents from external sources by 2025. Kodak has been recovering solvents at its plant in Rochester, New York since the 1920s when it started collecting and reprocessing solvents used in film and chemical manufacturing. Today the company offers what it claims is Kodak’s unique capability as a service. Customers in the chemical industry ship methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, acetates and other solvents to Kodak, and they are remanufactured with at least 99% purity. Over 18 million kilos of these materials coming from outside sources as well as Kodak were recycled in 2016, ensuring that they did not end up in incineration or other waste streams. All of this is good news for customers as well as the environment.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

  • Setting targets for energy use

    Today’s graphics industry is data driven. From digital prepress through to performance analytics, data is the only way to get accurate printed output and to measure business performance. The need for greater environmental accountability, either voluntary or regulatory, means that we have a new category of data to worry about.

    Except that relatively few small to medium sized businesses will want to bother with it which is not so good, because this new data dimension can actually help the bottom line. Companies cite the expense as a reason not to bother with sustainability data. And yet time after time we come across companies with improved profits because of their sustainability and quality management efforts. Sustainability reporting creates an imperative and a discipline which can help make the business more efficient and profitable.

    It all begins with a structure, the pillars and joists that provide the basics for sustainability policies and practices. The metrics are common for most companies, within and beyond the graphics business. Probably the simplest and most common starting point is to set targets for energy usage. Calculate how much energy your business uses today on a monthly or annual basis. Then decide how much you want to reduce it over a certain period of time, compared to that base value. A common goal is to use 5% less within five years, which is hardly onerous. Setting a five-year timescale also gives you wriggle room for investing in energy saving measures, such as more efficient equipment or new insulation.

    You can apply the same model for water usage and volumes of waste, if and how it gets recycled and how much of it goes to landfill. Aiming for a zero-waste target can start immediately. Indeed, any aspect of the business that has an environmental impact should be considered. There is a surprising number of things you can start doing straightaway, like setting up recycling points in the company and asking staff for suggestions that could contribute to improved environmental impact reductions.

    Many companies have developed road maps to help them gradually phase in sustainability initiatives. For small businesses, this can be an easier means of grappling with greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) relating to energy, transport and product use. The roadmap should address products and processes separately and set targets, even if the target is just to consider eco-efficiency improvements and how the business is structured to promote best environmental practices.

    The graphics industry is the same as other industries in that it is on a journey. The sustainability route starts with a couple of small steps that are easy to take and that can lead to a greener future.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

     

  • New paper recycling processes

    One of the biggest problems for makers of paper based on recycled printed matter is quality, meaning cleanliness. Ensuring that the waste paper entering the recycling stream is sufficiently uncontaminated for use as a raw material for new products is hard. Generally, pulp and paper mills rely on a test procedure to check that the inks and coatings on a batch of printed matter can be removed, prior to processing. This is one of the basics of quality assurance in this sector.

    That works fine for standard inks, but ink recipes, coatings and curing processes keep on changing. Innovations such as UV curing and the preference for more exotic coatings for prints, mean that new approaches to testing and preparing printed matter for recycling are needed. Paper mills have introduced new processes for prints that may be difficult to clean. But this can make batch processing harder. It requires sorting of the materials to turn them into new graphic papers or downcycle them for cardboard, eggboxes and the like. As waste paper volumes rise along with printing innovations, the need for new approaches to their processing becomes more acute.

    Nippon Paper Industries has recently filed a European patent that uses light to separate prints that are easily deinked, from those that are not. It provides a means of quickly sorting printed matter to single out the materials that are suitable as raw materials for recycled paper products. They are identified using light and measuring the light that gets reflected. Depending on the amount of light that is soaked up by the printed matter, the material will be routed for different processing methods.

    Nippon Paper’s patent allows for waste paper to be sorted so that the material that is suitable for new high quality papers can be separated from the dross. This solves the problem of pulp pollution from printed papers that have been UV cured or coated with resin films. If they find their way into the production of new papers either intense mechanical processes of lots of chemicals are required to maintain quality. This can cause deterioration in the paper fibres and add costs which paper makers want to avoid.

    Treating hard to recycle prints as rejects essentially removes them from the recycling supply chain. The Nippon Paper patent proposes a way to sort the raw material into different categories based on their suitability for deinking. We look forward to learning more about how this will be implemented.

    – Laurel Brunner

    This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.