Sustainability that doesn't look eco. Doing good for the sake of it, not to show everyone - we don't have to sacrifice a cool look.
Let's get started
The room fills up. Mumbling, chairs clattering, a bit like at school. The last row is in high demand - as we all know, that's where the "cool" people sit. I sit in the front row. I like being a nerd and I need to take notes for the blog post.
Sustainable finishes are the topic today. Sustainability is a topic that, as diligent blog readers know, I always find difficult. "I" am Maya, the author of this blog post (and a few more blog posts here in our "Printspiration" section) - I'm explaining this so that you know whose "opinion" you are reading here when I write "I".
I dislike the exploitation of the term "sustainability" and I have a problem with using the subject as "marketing content" and greenwashing; BUT I am of course open to "real" sustainable solutions.
Print products feasible eco-friendly without looking "green"
Even if a print product is intended to be sustainable, it must be feasible and "resilient" to a certain degree. Furthermore, although we may want to act sustainably, this does not always mean that we want to see it directly. An "eco" look doesn't always fit in with the concept or the product, even if we (or the customer) are basically pro-environment and want to act accordingly. Again, this fits in with LONGO's view of environmental awareness and sustainability: acting consciously and promoting longevity without proclaiming it to the world. Over the years, Seismografics has searched for solutions that enable a high-quality and elegant appearance without looking "green".
Increase recyclability - replace harmful substances
The first solution presented to us is called "Cosmic Dust", where glass particles are used instead of plastic to create a sparkling effect. Replacing plastic with glass improves the energy balance in particular, as recyclability is increased. The "ecological glitter" is applied using water-based dispersion varnish which is 100% biodegradable.
Cosmic Dust is followed by Magic Color: in screen printing, water-based colors are used. The opacity is truly "magic". By mixing the colors, a wide variety of shades can be created and therefore plenty is possible. Even the lightest of all colors can be reproduced with opacity: white. Since dark backgrounds have become so popular, opaque white is a particularly in-demand design element for print products. The opacity of the white in screen printing creates a stunning effect and leaves a lasting impression. Against expectations, the ink is abrasion-resistant and therefore more resilient than one might expect.
What particularly surprised us was the "green gloss" solution, which has no sustainable appearance at all. The example Philipp shows us is shiny metallic. Nothing you would associate with "eco" or sustainable. The laminated film is biodegradable, just like Cosmic Dust. The film lamination serves not only an aesthetic purpose by creating appealing surfaces, but also has a protective function.
No printing without paper
Paper and its properties play a major role in the printing and finishing process. When it comes to embossing, paper plays a key role. Embossing can be used to customize a printed product or packaging without the need of any additional materials. With embossing, only the "structure", the surface of the paper (or cardboard) is created by PRESSURE. This can be used to create a structure, such as the simulation of wood, or to emphasize a graphic element elegantly and discreetly.
As experts in printing on apple paper, we are excited to hear what Philipp can tell us about sustainable papers. At LONGO, apple paper ranks higher in the popularity rankings than grass paper. We think Gmund's hemp paper looks great, but apple paper is easier for us to print on. The fibers and rough structure of hemp paper practically scream sustainability, but don't exactly make it easy for our printers.
Overall, we notice that tree-free paper is becoming increasingly popular and is becoming a real option. What's new to us is sugar cane paper - I know, crazy, right? The cool thing about sugar cane paper is that, just like apple paper, it is created through "upcycling". Upcycling means that the waste generated during the processing of the raw material is used - in our cases to produce paper.
WOW on the inside - OHO on the outside
Philipp talks about a customer in the beauty industry who uses sugar cane paper for his packaging. In the food and cosmetics sector in particular, there are many regulations that need to be complied with if the product is in direct contact with the packaging. A special hybrid varnish, which is applied by screen printing, creates a barrier that primes the paper to ensure that it complies with the guidelines for direct contact with cosmetics and food.
In line with packaging production, we are also introduced to Eco-Star "Exotica". A transparent, printable, ecological film. The film is made from sustainable raw materials and is 100 percent compostable. The "Botanic Foil", which is used to wrap packaging (or books), reminds us a little off our compostable shrink wrap.
Philipp passes around samples and the "cool kids" in the back row now have to wait eagerly for the great samples to reach the back.
The presentation was insightful, we learned a lot and I hope that I was able to give you, dear readers, a little insight into our exciting presentation by diligently taking notes. AND I hope that I managed to communicate to you what Philipp taught us: Sustainability doesn't always have to look eco. Let's do good for the sake of the cause without sacrificing a cool look.