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Where Does Digital Printing Fit into Sustainable Packaging?


Topics: Packaging Printing Digital Printing

Sustainable packaging is a big trend in many markets. As consumers become more conscious of their environmental impact, they are more interested in companies that utilize sustainable packaging initiatives. According to a report from Smithers Pira, the market for sustainable packaging is set to reach $244 billion by 2018. In addition, sustainable packaging is projected to be the No. 1 challenge facing companies by 2023, becoming even more important than reducing costs. What many companies don’t realize is that using digital printing is a far more sustainable alternative to traditional print methods. In many situations, digital printing is also more cost-effective.

When most businesses and customers think of eco-conscious packaging, they tend to think about the materials themselves, but the processes companies use in putting their packaging together also have a significant environmental impact.

The Smithers Pira report found that the most consistent trends to achieve sustainability will be using more recycled materials and renewably sourced materials. However, the report also found that downsizing packaging and increasing recycling would also be key ways for companies to embrace eco-friendly processes. In fact, digital printing is a more sustainable method for creating packaging because it reduces the waste produced during the printing process. The digital printing process doesn’t require the creation of plates, and it uses four times less ink. Overall, it has a 30 percent lower carbon footprint than traditional methods, according to Brent Anderson, Packaging Advisor at Nosco.

Lean supply chains support eco-friendly packaging

Environmentally friendly packaging isn’t just about using recycled materials. It’s about improving processes so that they are more sustainable. This includes the whole supply chain. Just-in-time manufacturing doesn’t merely save companies money; it can also increase sustainability. When excess inventory becomes obsolete due to a change in regulations or some other issue, that entire product typically becomes waste. On the other hand, businesses can reduce waste by using just-in-time manufacturing and implementing digital printing for short runs to obtain only what they need.

Another option is to make sure products are sourced from providers that have been chain-of-custody certified by Strategic Forest Initiative for folding carton paperboard. Such a certification indicates the materials are being sourced from well-managed forests. This means the use of a forest is managed in a way that maintains biodiversity and regeneration for overall sustainability.

Of course, there are others ways to reduce waste, including eliminating certain packaging elements like unnecessary shipping components. In these cases, it can sometimes take some engineering to implement sustainability initiatives. Businesses don’t need to compromise on the appearance and performance of packaging to implement sustainable features.

Better packaging design can increase sustainability

For example, Nosco’s Solutions Engineering team recently helped a Consumer Brand adapt its packaging to accommodate reduced shipping materials. To decrease its use of shipping materials, the company decided to eliminate the dividers between its bottles. To make it work, the team had to increase ink adhesion to ensure that when the bottles rubbed against one another in shipping, the packaging would remain unaffected.

Whatever the goals companies have for their packaging, Nosco can work one on one with customers to make the adjustments they need to be more sustainable. Nosco can also make sure the changes don’t impact the current production lines or process.

Digital isn’t just one component of sustainable packaging, it’s a key or essential technology companies should be looking at. Not only can implementing eco-friendly initiatives increase sales among environmentally conscious consumers, reducing waste can decrease costs in many situations.

eco friendly cartons