Smithers publishes green report for brand owners

The Future of Green Printing to 2026 by Smithers highlights environmentally friendly print as an important industry trend for the 2020s.

04 Sep 2021 | By Charmiane Alexander

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a "Red Alert" for climate change on 9 August. As a result, brand owners and consumers are seeking solutions that minimise carbon emissions and waste.

The new Smithers' report – The Future of Green Printing to 2026 highlights how the graphics art industry and a brand owner can achieve this. As the press note says, "Green trends that will increasingly reward print service providers, inks and consumables suppliers and OEMs, that invest in more sustainable solutions over the next five years, and beyond."

The Smithers' report looks at opportunities at each stage of the print value chain. These are:

  • Increased sales of sustainable substrates, including recycled fibre and virgin paper grades accredited to sustainably forestry schemes. For PSPs there is an onus to limit use of virgin materials, and print on recycled paper grades when a premium surface is not necessary
  • A consistent trend in packaging is to substitute away from existing plastic packaging to fibre-based alternatives. Printers can capitalise on this trend by retooling their print lines to support these less uniform substrates
  • Cutting wastage in the make-ready and set-up which will favour wider use of digital (inkjet and electrophotography) print systems. A forecast reduction in the average run length for many print jobs will magnify this impact
  • The rapid adoption of bio-based solvent and water-based inks, with the current generation of vegetable oil inks already promising over 50% recycled content, and reduced emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • There is interest in developing new fibre sources for printing papers, such as bamboo or agricultural by products; as well as a limited impact from wider use of recycled plastic and biopolymer substrates in some packaging applications
  • Investment in print processes that minimises secondary raw material use, such as reduced water consumption for wash off
  • Greater support for technology platforms that enable the collection and reuse of print materials, both in industrial closed loop and consumer recycling streams.

Smithers' says "With 2021 set to be a pivotal year for the world’s efforts to contain climate change, these and other important timely trends for the industry are examined critically in – The Future of Green Printing to 2026. It profiles the evolution of circular economy principles, key legislative initiatives, the impact on analogue and digital print processes, and all major print product segments (books, magazines, newspapers, advertising, catalogues, commercial, security applications, transactional print, printed décor and textiles, and above all, packaging, and labels).

This business strategy guide is available at a price of priced USD 6,500.

In addition, the Smithers' report there is a desire to implement more planet-friendly working practices which will support a reordering of print businesses

  • The trend to reshoring production and printing improves supply chain security, and can also deliver saving on carbon emissions and wastage in transit
  • Larger organisations can switch to centralised printing models, with a single server assigning job requests most efficiently across its network of presses and end-users. This can also extend into the integration of web-to-print platforms for consumer sales.

Founded in 1925 and headquartered in Akron, Ohio, Smithers is a multinational provider of testing, consulting, information, and compliance services. With laboratories and operations in North America, Europe, and Asia, Smithers supports customers in the transportation, life science, packaging, materials, components, consumer, and energy industries. Smithers delivers accurate data, on time, with high touch, by integrating science, technology, and business expertise, so customers can innovate with confidence.