The importance of sustainability in packaging printing

Emission-free inks, Electron Beam curing, resource optimisation and materials with lower environmental impact

Sustainability is no longer a trend to be embraced: today, it is a requirement in any industrial activity.  We discussed this matter in our article about the requirements for the 2021 labelling market, because unsustainable processes are doomed to be increasingly penalised by the market.

The packaging industry is moving forward in the research of solutions with lower environmental impact, driven by government regulations, increased consumer awareness, and because non-renewable resources are limited. Sustainability is not only about minimising the carbon footprint, but also about optimising resources to reduce costs.

Therefore, sustainability in packaging printing contributes both to protecting the planet and to improving and enhancing the economic performance of companies in the industry.

How to achieve a more sustainable printing

Inks without emissions of polluting components

The range of environmentally-friendly inks is growing thanks to technological research: inks without solvents, photoinitiators or volatile organic compounds (VOCs); free of mineral oils and glycerines of animal origin; with low transfer. There is a wide variety, although whether printing is more or less sustainable will depend on the technology used.

Electron Beam (EB) Curing

Electron Beam curing avoids VOCs and other pollutant emissions. The ink is instantly fixed to the substrate and prevents even the slightest transfer, which is particularly valuable when it comes to food packaging. In particular, EB offset inks work cold, minimising waste, requiring no photoinitiators, and are solvent-free. In addition, the curing process is very energy efficient.

Energetic efficiency and resource optimisation

One of the ways to make any industrial process more sustainable is to reduce raw material and energy consumption. In packaging printing, the most efficient system is offset combined with EB curing, especially for short and medium runs, which is the market trend. Moreover, offset allows printing on any type of substrate, thus offering the best value for money and the lowest consumption of resources, both in terms of inks and plates.

Materials with less environmental impact

The packaging industry is working to research more sustainable, recyclable, reusable materials with a lower carbon footprint by reducing both raw materials and energy consumption in its manufacturing. The same goes for substrates used in the labelling sector. Whatever the case, the consolidation of the use of these materials means that there is a need to develop machines capable of printing on them with maximum quality guarantees, and that is what Rotatek’s rotary and semi-rotary offset presses offer.

The modular system of our machines allows them to meet the specific needs of each printer and adapt to any job, thanks to the combination of our value-added units, which provide versatility and complete customisation.