Sustainability is a catchphrase in 2020

With the growing demand for environment-friendly products, PrintWeek looks at how print and packaging companies are positioning its sustainability quotient in the times of climate change and global warming.

09 Apr 2020 | By Aultrin Vijay

The print industry as a whole has undergone significant change in the past couple of years. Consumers are demanding eco-friendly products and the print industry has been dealing with a mammoth task of making products and the company sustainable.

For instance, many ink manufacturers are bringing new ink formulations, which are environment-friendly as well as provide similar print quality of conventional inks.

At USD 7 trillion and counting, Black Rock is the world’s largest asset manager. So when CEO Barry Fink said that it would be divesting stocks with over 25% of profit from coal, building new portfolios based on sustainable funds, and that climate change “has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects”, it signalled that in 2020, environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns are coming out of the greenwashing closet, and getting a seat at the top table.

In February 2019, the Climate Leadership Council released a Bipartisan Climate Roadmap to inform legislation for a gradually rising carbon fee to cut US carbon dioxide emissions to 50% below 2005 levels in 2035. The revenue from this fee would be returned to households across the United States, with a family of four receiving about USD2,000 the first year.

Andrew Steer, CEO and president of World Resources Institute, a founding member of CLC, says, "The roadmap offers a path to meaningful emission reductions in the United States, and importantly has the support of a broad spectrum of stakeholders, from CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to Nobel Prize-winning economists, who recognise that bold climate action is critical to achieve and sustain economic prosperity in the 21st century.”

Bloomberg NEF predicts that by the end of 2020, the number of companies that have set science-based decarbonisation targets will have jumped by well over 100% from the 75% at the end of 2019.

This approach maps the changes needed to limit climate change to 2ºC (and now also 1.5VºC) onto companies’ operations, rather than ‘feel good’ targets. And raising the bar further, Microsoft has just announced it will go carbon negative by 2030, and that by 2050 it will remove all the carbon it has emitted into the atmosphere up to that point. In 2020, we can expect an upsurge in corporate sustainability pledges – backed by real initiatives – as ESG concerns start to be seen as mission-critical.

Businesses, including those in the print industry, cannot afford to do nothing. Here’s what some of the industry bigwigs are doing to attain its sustainability goals in 2020.

Komori’s ‘Green’ concept
At Komori, ‘Green’ has been designated as a keyword that denotes a state of co-existence embracing the environment, people and nature. According to Komori, the concept is the genesis of the Lithrone G40’s development – a high-performance machine created with consideration for the environment and ecology. The ‘G’ in its Lithrone G series stands for “Green Lithrone”.

Sangam Khanna, deputy managing director at Komori India, says, “Sustainability in the Indian printing market is underrated and often ignored when it comes to adopting a new change, especially green technology. The concept of green technology is unaddressed among most of the customers, as they are concerned about the profitability coming down. But we have sold around 50 presses in the Indian market so far, which not only reduces the input cost, but also maintains profitability.”

He says this also helps in reducing carbon footprints and emission of CO2 and supports the environment with technological changes adopted by Komori.

Under its “green investment initiative”, Komori protects the machine operators with environmentally compliant products that directly eliminate hazardous substances in each printing unit. This includes ink mist removal equipment and VOC recovery equipment (reduced VOCs by 75%). Its presses are also said to be alcohol-free.

Khanna claims that Komori presses achieve a minimal impact by saving energy and resources through shorter make-ready time, which is reduced by 45% and achieved paper waste reduction by 55% using integrated KHS-AI software.

The H-UV LED technology improves printing efficiency by reducing UV dryer power consumption by 87.2% and enabling instant on/off of the LED lamp, Khanna adds.

“Komori Green Technology inspires customers to work for a sustainable future. We, at Komori India, are trying to create a sustainable society and striving to be a company that inspires customer kando (exceeding customer expectations).

Cosmo Films’ recyclable laminates

Pankaj Poddar, CEO, Cosmo Films claims that plastic packaging has played an important role in the reduction of carbon footprint, which is way lower during production and transportation when compared to the other alternatives such as glass and paper.

However, according to Poddar, poor waste management infrastructure in most parts of the world has led to the widespread noise about the environmental implications of plastic packaging, which has heightened consumer awareness on the issue.

“Cosmo Films is working very closely with several FMCG brands to understand its needs, the needs of the consumer and helping them to develop easy-to-recycle packaging laminates for their products, without compromising on the different functionalities that a particular packaging is supposed to provide,” says Poddar.

“We have successfully helped brands develop and commercialise recyclable packaging for noodles, soaps, shampoos sachets, ketchup in squeezable format, tea pouches etc. We do this by making packaging construction mono-material/homogeneous in nature, which means that the multiple layers used to impart different functionalities belong to the same family of plastic polymers. This enables single step recycling and also in the creation of good quality polymers which can be used for several applications; enabling cost effectiveness and ease of recycling,” he adds.

Poddar also says that Cosmo Films has a product called Synthetic Paper, which is a replacement of pulp-based paper in applications requiring non-tearability and longevity. “Cosmo Synthetic Paper can have a far reaching impact in solving the twin challenges associated with pulp based paper; the challenges being cutting down of trees and the extensive usage of water during the manufacturing process.”

On the manufacturing front, the company recycles its manufacturing waste for further film production as well as packing materials such as core plugs and hollow sheets. Some of the recyclate is also used to make low grade plastic products such as chairs and tables. “We are continuously working towards reducing water usage, waste generation and greenhouse gas emissions at our manufacturing facilities. We practice rainwater harvesting and reuse the treated water at our plants. We have installed an energy efficient centralised chilling system at one of our main plants, which has resulted in the reduction of chilling plant load by 40%,” says Poddar.

A 3 MW rooftop solar power plant has been installed in one of the company’s plants and a 2 MW solar power plant is under installation. In the other plant where solar power is not installed, a wind power plant has been installed. “We have replaced all conventional plant and outdoor lighting with LED lighting. This has reduced the power load, and thus helped in efficiently using electricity to the best of its potential,” Poddar adds. 

Altana’s shift to renewable energy
By 2025, the specialty chemicals group Altana will reduce its CO2 impact from production and energy procurement worldwide to zero. Altana claims that in 2020, the company’s entire power supply will be converted to renewable energies. The company will compensate for the unavoidable use of natural gas until 2025 by financing equivalent climate protection projects in the regions where CO2 emissions are generated. The same applies to offsetting CO2 emissions arising from necessary business trips, company cars, and the transport of goods. The specialty chemicals group will thus achieve climate neutrality in its direct sphere of influence by 2025.

“We want to leave our footprint on innovations, not on emissions,” says Martin Babilas, CEO of Altana AG, explaining the decision. “With our CO2 neutrality programme up to 2025, we are fulfilling our responsibility for climate protection and consistently pursuing our sustainability course.”

In 2017, Altana had already achieved the goal it set itself in 2007 of reducing CO2 emissions by 30% in relation to gross value added by 2020. In order to further reduce its CO2 emissions, Altana is relying on greater energy efficiency as well as heat and electricity generation at its worldwide sites. In the long term, renewable energies should also replace natural gas as a source of energy.

“Sustainability is at the core of what we do at DuPont – from reducing our operational footprint and creating market-facing sustainable solutions, to addressing the global challenges of the future,” says Lucy Chen, business leader - Asia Pacific, DuPont Image Solutions.

DuPont recently announced its 2030 sustainability goals that are grouped into three categories: creating sustainable innovations to help customers and the world thrive, increasing the sustainability profile throughout its operations, and acting to ensure the inclusiveness, well-being and health of people and communities.

Coming to the package printing business segment, the DuPont Cyrel Fast is said to be an extremely fast and environmentally sound thermal platemaking system in flexo, which eliminates the use of solvents and provides quality, productivity and agility to printers/converters and trade shops.

According to Chen, it is one of DuPont’s most sustainable platemaking systems, which has a smaller footprint, delivering up to 53% less greenhouse gas emissions when compared to solvent. It also consumes up to 63% less non-renewable energy. Chen also says that the energy efficient system has practically no VOC emissions, which enables a safer and low-emission work environment.

“In the last five years, Cyrel Fast processors have helped reduce CO2 emissions equivalent to 109 million fewer miles driven by passenger vehicles,” says Chen. “Latest generation Cyrel Fast 2000 TD processors take this to a different level with more than 99% reduction in VOCs compared to solvent workflow and more than 76% compared to previous generation thermal processors.”

ITC’s WOW programme
During BMPA’s Print Summit 2020 held at Tata Theatre, NCPA, Mumbai, KI Viswanathan, EVP marketing and commercial, ITC-PSPD spoke about how the company scaled up its afforestation programme over the years, which currently covers 7,30,000-acres and has generated over 135-million person-days of employment.

Viswanathan also spoke about ITC being water positive. This translates to rainwater harvesting that is calculated into 35.35-million KL and net consumption of 10.34-million KL.

For water conservation, ITC follows global standards developed by the alliance for water stewardship. This standard looks at aspects such as water dependencies and impacts, mitigating operation supply chain water risks, ensuring responsible water procedures are in place, and building relationships with local water stakeholders.

He shared how ITC's flagship initiative Wellbeing Out of Waste (WOW) contributes towards a swachh and swasth India. Through the WOW initiative, ITC creates scalable solutions for spreading awareness about recycling, encouraging people to segregate and dispose of waste. As children seem to latch on to waste management concepts faster, the programme especially focuses on schools to reach out and educate kids.

WOW also enables larger value recovery from waste, hence creating sustainable livelihoods for waste collectors and 14,500 rag-pickers.

Viswanathan said, “Today, ITC has a total of 3.2 lakh hectares of sustainable plantations, which are re-grown every four years creating livelihood for 25,000 farmers. ITC also invests in education for these farmers on intercropping based on soil types thereby creating value for them.”

These models operate on a public-private partnership basis with active involvement of urban local bodies, civil society and the informal segment of waste collectors. Today, the benefits of this programme extend to over 7.7-million citizens and 3.3-million students in the country.

Vishwanathan spoke about how the industry can work towards a circular economy through initiatives in solid waste management. He mentioned how ITC has been solid waste recycling positive for the last 12 years.

ITC's Paperboards and Specialty Papers Business has established the country's first elemental chlorine-free fibre line with ozone bleaching technology and is fully compliant with world-class environmental standards. It is also the first paper business in the country to be invited to be a member of the Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Committed to developing a sustainable raw material base, ITC's pulpwood is being progressively sourced from renewable plantations under its Social and Farm Forestry programmes, which provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to tribal and marginal farmers.

During the year, ITC's capacity augmentation in the VAP segment at its Bhadrachalam mill was commissioned. Plus, ITC entered the art board market with the launch of ‘Safire Graphik Duo'. Furthermore, traction was gained in packaging boards based on renewable and recyclable material. The business sustained its leadership position in the sale of eco-labelled products.

HP’s Sustainable Impact agenda
In October 2019, as part of its ‘Sustainable Impact’ agenda HP unveiled a major USD200mn spend over five or more years in water-based inks for the textiles and corrugated packaging industries, the former of which is one of the world’s biggest water polluting industries. The World Resources Institute estimates that about 20% of industrial water pollution comes from garment manufacturing.

“Investing in water-based solutions that meet market needs and the increasing sustainability requirements of graphics customers is expected to propel business growth for HP,” says Santi Morera, general manager and global head of graphics solutions, HP. “We will be dedicating resources toward continued innovation and industry disruption to accelerate safer, simpler and more sustainable water-based printing technologies that meet the quality, performance and economics needed by these markets.”

The company is committing resources to enable the next generation of ink, printhead and press technology, with improved quality, performance and sustainability in its solutions out of a belief that water-based solutions are the long-term future of this market.

While executing plans for transforming the textiles market, HP is mindful of the technology options from both the traditional analogue and digital perspectives. As such, HP is collaborating with the textile industry in order to make the right choices for water-based digital platforms.

Water-based HP Latex Inks, for example, established a durable, versatile and safer alternative for existing inks used for signage and displays. Additional sustainability achievements across HP’s graphics business allow brands to reduce waste and minimise their environmental impact.

HP believes that investing in water-based ink solutions for the corrugate and textile printing markets will have beneficial effects along the entire product lifecycle, for the people who operate its printing systems, for the end users of the printed product, and ultimately for the final reuse, recycling, or disposal of that product.

Heidelberg’s environment protection policies
Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) built environmental protection into its corporate policy back in 1992 and has been developing new initiatives since then to mitigate its impact. Since October 2011, Heidelberg has been offering all models of the Speedmaster ranges as carbon-neutral presses. Since Drupa 2012, all machines (pre-press, press and post-press) from Heidelberg are available as "CO2 neutral".

In October 2012, a cogeneration plant was taken into service at the company's largest production site in Wiesloch-Walldorf, Germany. In the future, this plant will cut the site's energy costs by 10% and save 3,700 metric tons of CO2 each year. Since February 2012, the Amstetten site, which is home to the foundry, has been operating an energy management system certified to DIN EN ISO 50001. Ongoing projects aimed at reducing and recycling waste, putting resources and energy to efficient use, and cutting CO2 emissions are all helping the company as it strives to implement ecological production.

Heidelberger supports the Blue Competence sustainability initiative of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA). Blue Competence networks the mechanical and plant engineering sectors in the field of sustainability and pools resources, know-how, and strengths of the VDMA. Within the association various VDMA bodies and other organisations from the mechanical and plant engineering sectors are involved. Individual companies and institutions are also able to take an active part in the initiative.

Heidelberg also supports the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Therefore the company uses paper from sustainable forests in its demonstration rooms and printed products. In addition, the company also favours paper products with high recycled content.

JK Paper
JK Paper's thrust on the environment is visible in various eco-friendly processes at its plant sites for production of pulp and paper. According to the company, this has been done by adopting modern technology and process innovations.

JK Paper claims that its farm forestry development programme, started in 1991, has created employment and livelihood opportunities for a significant number of people even as the company sources its raw material requirement from the farm forestry on low-productive land. Through its R&D work, the company has developed a large number of improved varieties, which provide three times higher yield as compared to traditional seed route plantations.

The company makes it a point to continuously enrich the green cover through its Social Farm Forestry drive. Till date, over 1,16,000 hectares of land has been planted covering states of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

On an average, JK Paper has added 7,000 hectares annually to its plantation drive by distributing over 40 million saplings to farmers. This farm forestry activity since 1990 has cumulatively provided income for over 45,000 farmers, according to the company.

The company has also signed an Emission Reduction Purchase Agreement (ERPA) with the Bio Carbon Fund of the World Bank covering 3,500 hectares, mainly owned by small and marginal farmers associated with JK Paper's plantation programme. This programme is said to provide additional income for participating farmers, besides reducing harmful greenhouse gases and global warming.

JK Paper claims that better technology, process innovation, recycling, re-using and minimising waste-water discharge has helped the company significantly reduce its fresh water consumption and effluent generation per metric tonne of paper in recent years.

Naini Group
Naini Group of Industries has evolved over the years by embracing technology in the art of making paper. Led by its chairman Pramod Kumar Agarwal and managing director Pawan Agarwal, the group’s positions itself as "ethically firm and environmentally strong" organisation.

Naini Group, which began its first paper manufacturing facility Naini Papers in 1995, extended its wings by starting its flagship company Naini Tissues in 2002. The company has also incorporated several CSR activities as well.

The company believes that the practice of water conservation ethically and aesthetically right as well as what is economically expedient. Water consumption in its facilities are monitored in different sections and recorded every day. Its fresh water consumption is only 70 KL/MT which is well within the benchmark standards in similar industries.

Other measures taken by the group to preserve water includes maximum circulation of backwater, dedicated hydrant network, utilisation of backwater from one section to another section, and utilisation of treated wastewater in raw material wet washing and bagasse wet bulk storage.

The company also incorporates an Environment Management Cell and also claims to have developed a technology named ODL to improve pulp quality and its environmental performance. The technology, according to Naini Group, has helped reduce chlorine consumption by 40%, improving the brightness and strength properties of pulp.

TechNova Imaging Systems
TechNova is said to be the pioneer of the Go Green mission in the Indian print industry. According to the company, the Go Green movement is a value-system, a philosophy, not related to just one product, but its entire approach across solutions to create a cleaner, greener press of the future.

From saving millions of litres of water through chemistry-free plates to offering process-free plates, VOC-free chemicals, water-based and UV coatings, extending to even mapping the carbon footprint of how it delivers its solutions through energy-efficient logistics, the motive is evident.

TechNova's endeavour is to make the pressroom a safe place. According to the company, it will continue to pursue the noble purpose of Go Green to make the Indian print community conscious of the environmental impacts, in addition to offering environment safe products.

Some of the recycling schemes adopted by the company include recycling interleave paper waste in its plates manufacturing plants and 100% PET-based solid waste management for recycling plastic waste in its media manufacturing plants.

In terms of energy management, the company has a team of ENCON experts focusing on continuously eliminating energy wastages and optimising losses. According to TechNova, the company has embarked on a holistic energy management journey with the objectives of progressively reducing energy consumption of manufacturing lines, and identifying chronic energy wastages and losses by using energy analytics software and taking data-driven ENCON actions.

The company also replaced its furnace oil fuel with clean green piped natural gas. Utilities and lighting systems are managed through SOP and AI systems to achieve effective utilisation. Employees are encouraged to carpool to save fuel and reduce contribution to emission pollution.

"We not only strive for reducing internal energy consumption but also conduct comprehensive energy audits at customer premises and facilitate them to reduce their power cost and overall carbon footprint," the company said.

The company also follows the golden mantra of 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – in its day to day processes.

"Our formulations are made to comply with the ever tightening legislation. We encourage purchase from suppliers having good manufacturing practices and focus on environment and sustainability," the company said.

"The environment protections laws are becoming stringent, which is expected and is the need of the hour. As good and responsible corporate citizens we anticipate and explore all opportunities to reduce, reuse, recycle all material and energy resources. All our manufacturing units are certified for QMS, environment and occupational health and safety. Robust Integrated Management system certification has also been accredited," it added.

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