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Flexo Sustainable : Winter 2008
Recycling Considerations. All packaging suppliers know what substrates are recyclable, but some have higher recycling rates than others. When it comes to multi-material packaging applications, it is important to consider whether or not the components are separable or if separation requires extensive time and labor. The more complex or multi-faceted a construction, the more likely it is to incorporate materials that will inhibit or reduce recyclability. The same can be said of bonded materials. In addition, CPCs and printers alike need to realize that the consumer, in order to consider recycling, has to recognize the material as recyclable in the first place. Highly recyclable substrates such as folding cartons and corrugated board can be negatively affected by several processes common to flexographic printing. For example, film laminations or extrusions, foil stamping, hot-melt adhesives and even window film (such as the type found in envelopes) can inhibit recycling. In addition, many recycling plants will not accept materials with UV or EB inks and coatings. Ironically, RFID (radio frequency identification) tags, which Wal-Mart has been a major proponent for, can also complicate sustainability. Does This Apply To Me? As the trend toward sustainable packaging evolves, the definition and demand for it will continue to grow. So the question becomes, “Do I, the flexographic printer/converter, need to be a supplier of sustainable packaging?” Much like the RFID craze, it depends on whether or not the CPC customers are at the forefront of this movement. Proactive printers/converters will only help themselves by getting involved early, while most of their competitors are also struggling through the learning curve. You can answer that question any way you want. Sooner or later, your customers will answer it for you. For more information about the Sustainable Packaging Coalition or its Design Guidelines for Sustainable Packaging, visit www.sustainablepackaging.com. Flexographic printers/converters interested in learning more about sustainability and sustainable packaging should attend FFTA’s 2008 Forum in Dallas, TX, where a full session will be dedicated to the subject. For more information or to register, call 631-737-6020 or visit www.flexography.org/online/forum/overview.cfm.