Cutting through eco-jargon to nail down green practices and products.
Beyond hardware and inks, the final component of any green project is the media itself. And, here, there are many categories, not all of which are easy to define and identify. "Finding truly green materials for our industry is very difficult due to lack of clear standards and the inconsistent use of terms by many suppliers," says Don Graham of BGM Imaging.
What follows are the general terms used to identify printing substrates, and how a sampling of media from around the market might fit into a shop’s green product line.
Substrates made from natural products: These include many textiles and papers, can be described as sustainable or renewable, and may be recyclable or biodegradable. Both GFX International and Light-Works report using Pace Industries’ BioGraph.ics, a plastic that’s derived from plant materials. For rigid applications, Light-Works also imports from Europe a board called Re-Board-a reinforced corrugated rigid board that’s renewable and biodegradable. Primary Color is printing on bamboo, wood, and Kraft paper, "all of which are recyclable-and all of which are capturing the attention of our green-leaning clients," says John Shaffer.
Products made from recycled products: These include many papers and cardboards, as well as fabrics made from recycled plastics. For rigid graphics, IconPrint turns to Xanita board, which is made from recycled products and can be recycled after use. Orangeburg, New York-based Dream Green Banners (www.dreamgreenbanners.com), a division of Dream Digital Fabric Printing Service, utilizes direct-digital-inkjet printing on its line of Eco-fabric, composed of 100-percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, woven into a printable canvas. These fabrics are printed using the shop’s Reggiani Dream system, using water-based disperse inks.
BGM’s GreenLine Imaging products (www.greenlineimaging.com), launched three years ago, offer various printable substrates including Designtex Duraprene nonwoven wall coverings (made of wood pulp, post-industrial waste, and post-consumer waste), fabrics (Dove, Fern, and the translucent Aqua), and encore 12, a replacement for foam board that’s re-pulpable and recyclable and contains recycled fibers. The company also boasts of eco-friendly printing processes that can image onto metals (Alocomp) and glass (Glazpix).