New European plan for green print

Beatrice Klose, the secretary general of Intergraf spoke in Mumbai during the WPCF conference on 8 January. She mentioned new EU legislative challenges and highlighted the target of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, transition to a circular economy and a zero pollution Europe.

27 Jan 2020 | By Ramu Ramanathan

Beatrice Klose, secretary general, Intergraf

Klose said, in terms of the climate there have been good track records for VOC emissions in Europe: VOC emissions decreased by 50% in the past 30 years. In this context, Klose asked what does it mean for the European printing industry? Since decarbonisation of the European industrial sectors will increase pressure on largest printing plants.

She pointed out, by 2024, all printers consuming more than 200 tonnes of solvents per year (flexo, gravure, heatset offset) will have to update their environmental permits to comply with new legal requirements in terms of VOC emissions.

The  circular economy package stipulates a greener product policy with emphasis on eco-design of products, including reuse and  recyclability of products. Europe has a good track record on paper and board recycling with 71.6% of all paper being recycled.

She also spoke about the new EU Ecolabel for printed products in 2020 as well as pressure on eco-design of printed products (deinkability requirements, mineral oil content…).

Planet earth and its inhabitants have a serious addiction to synthetic polymers. Therefore there is the goal to reduce single use plastics and make all packaging in the EU reusable or recyclable by 2030. This will increase the pressure for printed packaging, in particular printed plastic packaging. On the other hand this might createn opportunities for paper-based packaging alternatives.

Today, just 9% of plastics get recycled. Traditional plastics are made from extracted oil and gas, and they contribute to the rising temperatures behind the climate crisis. There is a 40% rise in plastic production over the next decade. Petro majors have invested USD 180bn into new facilities that form the raw material for plastics from packaging to bottles, trays and cartons.

An alternative is needed, quickly.

Talking points in Beatrice Klose's presentation in Mumbai 

71.6% of paper is recycled in the EU which includes 512 million people in 28 countries

90% of European printing companies employ less than 10 staff.

Packaging printing has surpassed graphic printing in 2016.

Although the large majority of its trade of printed products is intra-EU, the EU has a trade surplus of Euros 2.7 billion to non-EU countries.

The EU imports printed products mainly from the US and China.