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  • Writer's pictureMichał from Hussar Books

Eco-printing - the future of the printing industry or a passing trend?

The pressure to change to greener habits has had a strong impact on all areas of the economy for many years. The main reason for this direction is by no means a fad, but the need to turn back from the path that leads inevitably to environmental degradation. The printing industry, as a significant manufacturing segment, has a lot to answer for here. The use of resources - trees, water, electricity, waste management or the use of materials that have an impact on the ecosystem, such as printing inks - are factors that definitely need to be taken into account, and if you have not yet implemented environmentally friendly solutions, this is the "last call".

Hussar Books and eco-printing Hussar Books is made up of people who are young and understand the world around them. We are constantly developing, among other things, by responding to market needs and constantly looking for ways to make our offer better. We are aware that eco-printing is much more than just a market trend. It's a need, driven by the real problems we face as global citizens. It's also a response to customer expectations - and the direction of the search for eco-friendly, yet still efficient and high-quality printing solutions has been very clear in recent years. All of these are changes that we at Hussar Books are very excited about and hope to see gain momentum in the near future. In response to increasingly frequent questions about eco-friendly printing, we've put together a brief analysis of what the printing industry has to offer in this regard.

Sustainable paper - a clear shift towards the planet

In place of white paper, eco-friendly paper is increasingly being used. Even better if it's recycled. Sometimes it is not without flaws - cellulose fibers visible to the naked eye, color deviating from white, clearly different texture. Despite its weaker performance, however, it can successfully replace white quality paper at many times. Especially where the print is temporary or for internal purposes within the organization. The use of recycled paper in the printing of hang tags, labels, vouchers, envelopes or flyers is more and more often welcomed by business partners and is nothing to be ashamed of. Today, such steps are no longer seen as lack of class or an unwarranted search for savings. On the contrary, companies that act in a sustainable way and take ecology into account in their daily operations gain in image.

The development of technology goes in the direction of improving the parameters of recycled paper, so one can suppose that soon printing on recycled paper will no longer be a difficult choice between care for ecology and quality. All criteria will be able to go hand in hand. Even now you can easily find in the industry high-quality ECF (elemental chlorine free) papers, i.e. papers that are bleached with safer chlorine dioxide at the pulp stage instead of harmful chlorine gas or TCF (totally chlorine free) papers, i.e. completely chlorine free, bleached with other methods or not bleached at all. Although they cost more than white paper, they are nevertheless an extremely popular choice among customers.

If not recycling, then certified raw material

If the print cannot be made on recycled paper for some reason, the industry is leading the way in making the use of wood from proven sources an absolute necessity. Suppliers who hold the FSC mark can certainly be regarded as such.

This is an international certification overseen by the non-profit Forest Stewardship Council. Its main area of activity is to promote the responsible use of natural resources and maintain a balance in forest management - so as not to upset the balance and take into account not only ecological but also economic and social issues. The market is clearly pointing in the right direction, and the printing industry is eager to follow it - more and more production companies are FSC-certified, giving customers a wider offer and the assurance that they are making the right choice.

Also Hussar Books this year joined the group of companies holding the FSC certificate and in addition to expanding our offer for ecological papers, inks and more forms of printing, we can also boast of cooperation with certified entities that in a rational and thoughtful manner implement more and more environmentally friendly solutions in their operations.

We know on what, but do we know with what? Ecological inks storm the industry.

Many printing inks contain harmful toxic substances that end up in the ecosystem at the production stage, having a very detrimental effect on it. And this is where eco-friendly printing inks come into play.

They are suitable for printing on many media, have high durability, excellent saturation, allow to obtain very good visual effects, and at the same time are completely harmless to the environment. Therefore, they are increasingly replacing solvent printing, allowing you to maintain high quality at the same time. Apart from ecological advantages, such printing has another advantage - protection and improvement of the quality of work of people employed in printing houses. When printing with "traditional" inks, production halls fill up with volatile compounds (VOCs) which, if inhaled continuously, sooner or later give rise to health concerns. Eco-friendly paints avoid such problems.

However, this is not the end of the story. Vegan inks are becoming increasingly popular. Derived from plants - rapeseed, safflower, soybean or linseed - they not only have a good, safe composition but also a high recycling rate. And while they're still bewildering traditionalists, the fact that they've taken the US market by storm and gained considerable popularity (about 25% of prints in America are now made with vegan inks) heralds an imminent change in Europe, too.

Sustainability - the big picture

Resource management, broadly defined, is also a very capacious field that has been gaining importance in recent years. Water consumption, electricity consumption or waste generation - this is where the printing industry has a lot of room for improvement.

The multi-track reduction of manufacturing waste, on a global scale is indeed significant and helps ensure that the world is not drowning in garbage. Choosing energy-efficient equipment in printing plants, while maintaining high efficiency, not only reduces energy consumption but also reduces costs. Reducing the amount of water used during production is in line with the trend for ecological resource management and will benefit everyone by reducing production costs. All of this still requires work, financial investment and thoughtful optimization, but there are many indications that there is no other way for manufacturers.

A choice dictated by expectations

Awareness of eco-trends among printers and the entire printing sector in global markets is certainly growing under the influence of numerous social campaigns and increasingly widespread knowledge. Aside from the obvious educational issues, however, what the viewer is looking for is also key. And that, as it turns out, is increasingly expecting eco-friendly printing. Thus, it prompts manufacturers to seek alternatives to meet these needs.

Although the beginnings of eco-printing were associated mainly with low-volume productions, questionable quality and the need to choose between good looks and ecology, after a few years a clear progress can already be seen. Quality goes hand in hand with technological progress, available solutions allow to achieve excellent visual results. The choice of options is growing, and anyone who decides to make a change and uses green printing to replace less sustainable solutions is rightly becoming convinced that they are doing the right thing for the planet, and gaining in the eyes of business partners as well. The doubts therefore appear to be unfounded. If all of us in the printing industry start looking for a field for change in our own backyards and join together to play for a better world, there will be no losers - we - the industry representatives - will gain, our customers will gain, and the planet will gain.

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