The pivotal role of printing in sustainable packaging at Drupa 2024. Discover advancements, challenges, and collaborative efforts for eco-friendly solutions.

Sustainable Shift: Printing's Role in Eco-Friendly Packaging

The evolving landscape of sustainability in the packaging industry is at the forefront of discussions among brand owners, print-service providers, and technology suppliers. The intricate relationship between brands and consumers is significantly influenced by packaging, which serves essential functions in transporting, protecting, storing, and consuming everyday goods. In this context, the role of packaging extends beyond aesthetics to encompass precise adherence to safety, traceability, and sustainability standards.

The surge in e-commerce over the past decade has thrust packaging into the spotlight, not only for its positive contributions, such as providing memorable unboxing experiences, but also as a critical factor in addressing the challenge of excess packaging. The debate surrounding the perceived value of folding cartons, corrugated boxes, labels, and flexible packaging places printing at the forefront, emphasizing the need for printers to be effective product marketers.

Sustainability emerges as a crossroads and challenge within the supply chain, impacting waste disposal, be it paper, plastic, metal, or glass. Consumers, converters, and suppliers are increasingly conscious of the need for sustainable solutions that align with safety and global regulations, despite the diverse directives issued by different regions.

As the industry gears up for drupa 2024, technology areas, particularly in printing, are under scrutiny. While analog printing remains a formidable force, digital printing takes center stage, with a focus on enhancing automation, connectivity, and efficiency. Leaders in the field, such as Landa, are expected to make significant moves, particularly in digitizing high volumes of folding cartons.

A critical aspect of sustainability lies in the adoption of water-based inkjet inks, especially for paper substrates. Digital manufacturers advocate for the replacement of plastic films with more sustainable alternatives, promoting recyclability and disposability. However, challenges such as media deinkability remain unresolved, posing hurdles to true sustainability.

The realm of embellishment and converting undergoes a greener transformation with the integration of digital technology. Digital die-cutting, pioneered by companies like Highcon, becomes a viable option, offering clean, accurate, and cost-effective systems for die-cutting. The label printing and converting segment stands out as a laboratory for hybridizing analog and digital print engines.

Beyond heavy machinery, the journey towards sustainability involves every component of the value chain, including papers, substrates, and software ecosystems. Efforts are underway to create easily separable and recyclable packaging through innovations like Avery Dennison's AD CleanFlake technology. Software, once an extension of machinery, now plays a pivotal role in user experience, process automation, and waste reduction.

As manufacturers strive to contribute to sustainability, drupa 2024 emerges as a potential catalyst for change. While no magic formula exists, collaborative efforts and a joined-up approach are crucial. Drupa 2024 aims to bring together sustainability-conscious players, fostering dialogue and collaboration that could lead to a turning point for the industry.

In the pursuit of a more sustainable future, the packaging industry acknowledges the imperative to waste less, produce judiciously, and create packaging that is easily separable and recyclable. Drupa 2024, as a significant event within the industry, has the potential to shape the trajectory of sustainability, bringing together key stakeholders and influencing decision-makers towards more environmentally responsible practices.


Keywords

Sustainability , Printing Industry , Digital Printing , Packaging Innovation , Drupa 2024

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