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Tue, Jan

Getting our act together

Whatever your thoughts on COP26, one thing was rammed home - that we need to work together for the greater good. Here well-known eco advocate ImageCo MD Nathan Swinson Bullough and Denise Kirby, MD of Kirbyco in New Zealand, talk about the need for global commitment across the industry.

Eco ‘worriers’ Nathan Swinson Bullough and Denise Kirby have been talking, and they want more of it - right across the full extent of the global print industry. Their hope is that words will turn into actions that improve the green credentials of print, wherever it’s produced - and wherever and whenever it’s finished with.

“COP26 brought the world together when it comes to sustainability, and highlighted the very real problems that our planet is facing from all industries,” says Swinson Bullough, MD of ImageCo, Fespa UK board member, and active advocate of developing a more environmentally-friendly print supply chain.

“Everything from carbon emissions to plastic waste has to be addressed and more innovation is needed. The print industry needs to shift dramatically to become more sustainable. Over recent years we have seen a definite shift towards a more sustainable attitude from print suppliers across our industry. At ImageCo, as a print service provider, we can only print on what suppliers produce. More needs to be done on recycling and the afterlife of print. Many products, although classed as green, still cannot be recycled and even though they may end up as waste to energy this still isn’t ideal.

“More needs to be done when it comes to recycling, but for this to happen there needs to be closer relationships. Fespa UK is working on something with various suppliers that will come to fruition in the near future, and it has been interesting to hear what Denise is doing to address the issue down under, because at the end of the day, this is a global problem.”

As MD of New Zealand-based Kirbyco - which focuses on environmentally-friendly, recyclable and sustainable print media solutions - Kirby is eager to get things moving along apace.

“Having supplied self-adhesive media for over 27 years, it started to concern me that in working to provide the best solutions for print, I was contributing to the problem of enduring plastic waste in the environment. I started thinking about how every metre of film I had ever sold was still out there breaking down in landfill and would continue to do so for hundreds more years to come. This is the not legacy that I wanted to leave ongoing for future generations,” she says.

“I started Kirbyco with the mission of developing a portfolio of green print media that would not only offer the same quality as PVC but also be cost effective. While PVC-Free films are considered green, this is only comparative. Research showed that in our region non-PVC films were still going to landfill. To offer the best environmental outcome, we need films that are not just free of PVC, but can be fully recycled locally.

“We partnered with local manufacturer Future Post who takes commercial soft plastic waste and turns it into fence posts. Agriculture has a huge demand for this product as unlike treated timber, these posts don’t leach out harmful chemicals and can be used in vineyards and organic farming because they are non- toxic.  The posts themselves can also be recycled. This was the solution we were looking for.  Not only could our material be recycled, it could be recycled into an ongoing circular and sustainable solution. We developed our range Zero to be compatible with Future Post’s recycling capabilities. Both the top sheets and the liners of Zero films are engineered to be recycled, enabling Kirbyco to offer a true zero waste solution.

“Because recycling provides the best environmental outcome, we set up a programme to take our printed media back end of life. We provide recycling bags with our films and printers or end-users can book a pick up for bulk waste directly with us, or post back smaller bags. This makes it easy for customers to recycle and gives them the reassurance that material will actually be recycled correctly.”

Swinson Bullough continues: “Making a change for good requires a global commitment both from suppliers and printers to invest in new technologies, products and processes. By making even small changes, if we work collectively, we can make a big impact and leave a better environment for future generations.” Here, here.

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