Demand For Sustainable Print Technologies Creates New Business Opportunities

Demand For Sustainable Print Technologies Creates New Business Opportunities

Smithers latest report discovers that more environmentally friendly printing is fast emerging as an industry trend for the 2020s.

Climate Change UN’s Intergovernmental Panel issued a ‘Red Alert’ for climate change on 9 August 2021. As a result, brand owners, consumers and users are increasingly seeking solutions that minimise carbon emissions and waste.

The new Smithers report examines this in detail – The Future of Green Printing to 2026. The trend will increasingly see rewards for print service providers, inks and consumables suppliers and OEMs, that invest in sustainable solutions over the next five years and beyond.

There will be specific opportunities at each stage of the print value chain. The Smithers’ research identifies among other topics:

  • Cutting wastage in make-ready and set-up will favour 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, with the current generation of vegetable oil inks already promising over 50% recycled content, and reduced emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Increased sales of sustainable substrates, including recycled fibre and virgin paper grades accredited to sustainably forestry schemes. For PSPs, there is an onus to limit the use of virgin materials and print on recycled paper grades when a premium surface is not necessary
  •  A consistent trend in packaging is to substitute away from existing plastic packaging to fibre-based alternatives. Printers can capitalise on this trend by retooling their print lines to support these fewer uniform substrates
  • There is interest in developing new fibre sources for printing papers, such as bamboo or agricultural by-products, as well as a limited impact from the wider use of recycled plastic and biopolymer substrates in some packaging applications
  • Investment in print processes that minimises secondary raw material use, such as reduced water consumption for wash off
  • Greater support for technology platforms that enable the collection and reuse of print materials, both in industrial closed-loop and consumer recycling streams.

The report notes the desire to implement more planet-friendly working practices which supports a reordering of print businesses:

  • The trend to re-shoring production and printing improves supply chain security, and can also deliver saving on carbon emissions and wastage in transit
  • Larger organisations can switch to centralised 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.

The world’s effort to contain the climate emergency in the year 2021 and beyond is crucial. 

With 2021 set to be a pivotal year for the world's efforts to contain climate change, these and other research profiles circular economy principles, key legislative initiatives, the impact on analogue and digital print processes, and all major print product segments (Books, Magazines, Newspapers, Advertising, Catalogues, Commercial, Security applications, Transactional print, Printed décor and textiles, Packaging, and Labels).

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