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The Sustainable Future: How Flexographic Printers Can Go Green

Posted by Mark Portelli

Mar 1, 2018 3:03:00 PM

From recycling, to solar roofs, to electric cars, environmental sustainability has become a trend that means big business.light-bulb-2631841_1920.jpg

Consumers care about protecting the environment, and they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is — even making purchase decisions based on the sustainability and environmental friendliness of a product, according to a recent study conducted by Unilever.

But sustainability isn’t always obvious from a consumer standpoint.

For flexographic printers, sustainability is more about the process — reducing the overall waste, scrap, cost, and environmental impact of the printing application.

In an article from Flexible Packaging Magazine, Doreen Monteleone, treasurer for the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership and a sustainability consultant at D2 Advisory Group, says:

“As more buyers are becoming educated on how encompassing sustainability really is, many are looking beyond the substrate and are considering how the package was printed, ultimately finding out that not all printers are equal in their sustainable manufacturing claims.”

How then do flexographic printers make their applications more “green”?

Going green as a flexographic printer

There are many ways printers can make their operations more sustainable. Today, we’ll discuss two of them.

#1 — Consider acquiring SGP certification

The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) is “the only independent organization that provides a third-party certification of a graphic communication facility’s sustainability program.” The Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) serves on its board.

Getting SGP certification helps printers “identify operational improvements in all areas of the facility, including reducing operating costs, waste, energy consumption and pollution, injuries, and more.”

The SGP reports that printers receive “an average cost savings of more than $43,000 from SGP certification,” as well as other benefits including reduced energy consumption, lower landfill and hauling costs, and decreased solvent costs through recycling.

Not only that, but the SGP also notes that “62 percent of SGP-certified facilities have significantly reduced VOC emissions.”

Once certification is obtained, it lasts for two years, and “[d]uring that time, certified printers must complete an annual project and submit an annual report. They must reapply for certification and have an audit every two years to maintain certification.”

#2 — Implement ink control automation

Effective ink management is a difficult process, involving a careful balance of a range of factors including viscosity, pH, temperature, and evaporation. Striking that proper balance means consistent quality for your application, but if it’s off (even by a little), the results can be rejections and a loss of profitability.

Fortunately, printers can take advantage of ink control automation, which eliminates the need for manual adjustments. With an automated ink management solution, every process factor is automatically and perfectly balanced — reducing waste, scrap, and cost, while also increasing environmental sustainability thanks to lower ink usage.

Norcross’ StablINK system is designed to improve ink performance by continuously monitoring and making adjustments in solvent-based or water-based printing applications. To learn more, download our brochure or contact Saint Clair Systems directly to discuss your application.

Click to get your StablINK brochure

Topics: sustainability, flexographic printing

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