The Greener Side of Retail Printing

Is the industry beginning to embrace the cost of sustainable production?

“More for the money.” Isn’t that what everyone wants? We chose this as the overarching theme to describe this year’s trends in retail and P-O-P printing because in today’s landscape, retailers want it all: fast, cheap, unique, and memorable. (You can read all about it in our March issue.) Another one to add to the list is eco-friendly.

What does eco-friendly look like in a digital print shop? The answers run the gamut, but two retail print providers point specifically to the ink they use and the materials their customers demand.

Ryan Bishop, director of Australian print provider Boom Studios, says, “There’s a big push for fabric down here in our part of the world. People are talking about banning PVC.” The shop prints textiles on its HP Latex 560 and Designjet L28500 printers. Bishop adds they’ve also started doing a lot of work on Tyvek, a recyclable, synthetic material similar to what you’d see on the exterior of buildings under construction.

Mike Robinson, general manager at KDM Atlanta, says eco-friendly production is a positive byproduct of the technologies they already prefer at their facility, but also that more clients are beginning to seek out products that are good for the planet. KDM’s Atlanta facility is completely solvent-free, running only latex and UV inks; they also use soy-based inks on the litho side.

The materials are a big part of the equation there, too. KDM is a powerhouse in the point-of-purchase sector and works closely with many high-profile clients in the beverage market. They’re already working on research and development for latex-printable materials for such clients, and Robinson adds that “by 2019 a lot of the beverage marketplace will be using PVC-free plastics. … There are products being developed that have no PVC in them that actually will last longer than standard products.”

Of course, it always circles back to that theme: the money. “A lot of customers are conscious of greener products,” says Robinson, “but there’s still that price consideration that comes into play.” Only time will tell if the intersection of print quality and price will turn out to be a win for the planet, as well.

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