Category Archives: Environmental Impact

“Green” doesn’t have to mean “expensive”

Choosing a paper for your next printing project can have a significant impact on the environment as well as your budget.  Fortunately there are many choices available today not only for choosing paper but for choosing a printing process that can be both green and cost effective.

Lithography (traditional offset printing), by far the most common type of printing, is based on the principal that oil (ink) and water don’t mix.  Therefore, all offset inks are oil based, some come from vegetable oil others from petroleum.

Naturally, choosing vegetable based ink is better for our environment than choosing the more common petroleum based ink.  For larger press sheets and longer runs, lithography can also be the most cost effective printing technique available.

Water based inks are the most environmentally friendly inks available.  They do not use oil and do not require solvents to clean.  The engraving process is the only printing technique that can use water-based ink.  This makes engraving the most environmentally friendly way of putting ink on paper and although it is not quite as economical as lithography it can be designed in a way to keep costs down.

Of course, the most environmentally friendly printing method available is when no ink is used whatsoever. The only two choices for this are to emboss a message (changing the shape of the paper) or to Die-Cut the paper (cut paper away).


Will documents printed on ink jet printers become a deinking nightmare?

Inkjet prints cannot be recycled for new newsprint or copying paper just as old newspapers or magazines.  The ink cannot be removed during the recycling process; it leaves a dark shade for the new paper.  The recycling paper mills can still cope with single inkjet prints from households or offices.  However, direct mail or newspapers printed with inkjet act like a sponge full of ink and even in small amounts these kinds of printed products can cause the system of graphic paper recycling to collapse.
In January 2008, the International Association of the Deinking Industry (INGEDE) issued a press release warning against problems in the recycling of ink jet imaged papers.  This release was followed by an article from INGEDE’s Axel Fischer in the April 2008 Recycling magazine, which claimed ink jet-imaged papers cannot be successfully deinked, and that there are dangerous papers heading toward an ecological dead end.   Fischer has also made similar presentations at various industry meetings.  This is very similar to the hue and cry raised in the 1990s about f lexo printed newspapers creating unsolvable problems for mills making deinked recycled newsprint.  There are similarities between flexo inks and the supposedly nondeinkable ink jet inks.

To read the full report go to:

New Study Confirms the Recyclability and Repulpability of Foil-Decorated Paper/Board

Pira International, Surrey, UK, a third party research firm, was commissioned by the FSEA to conduct the study and produce the findings, which have been compiled in a 14-page study.

To conduct the study, foil stamped paper/board was utilized from both the more traditional hot foil stamping process and also the cold foil process. The evaluation included foil decorated product that represented 25 percent post consumer waste up to 100 percent post consumer waste, meeting levels that far exceed normal conditions. “It has become quite apparent that this study is extremely important to the long-term health of our industry and association,” stated FSEA Executive Director Jeff Peterson. “We are very excited with the positive findings of the study and are making every effort to communicate these findings to the graphic arts and packaging industries as quickly as possible.”

Along with the findings, the study describes the pulping and screening methods used in the research, and provides a complete analysis of the reporting results from the testing methods. The main conclusion from the study validates the recyclability of paper products decorated by both the traditional hot stamp and new cold foil processes. In addition, the study finds that neither hot nor cold foil-decorated products would give rise to problems found in other decorating processes that may render the decorated paper products unsuitable for recycling.

The Foil & Specialty Effects Association is committed to providing its members and the industry at large with the tools to address the expanding number of questions regarding the topic of sustainability. The complete copy of the study is available for distribution. To obtain a copy or to receive further information, contact the Foil & Specialty Effects Association at (785) 271-5816 or e-mail