Every so often, it seems, new terminologies rise rapidly to the forefront of our consciousness. These terms start out as common-sense ideas, and as more people adapt these terms, they quickly become a cottage industry.
I mention this because the environment has become an increasingly important topic, and the ink industry is being called upon to work with printers in helping to meet these new mandates, whether government- or business-driven. Terms such as “sustainability” and “carbon footprint” are now commonplace. Meanwhile, ink manufacturers and their suppliers are coping with the European Union’s upcoming implementation of REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals), which begins in June 2007.
What do these topics mean to the ink industry, its customers and its suppliers?
The goal of sustainability is to make and distribute products that do not diminish our natural resources, and that are not harmful to human life or our ecosystem. While there has been growing interest in sustainability, Wal-Mart’s decision to embrace the concept in late 2006 has become a major driver.
Is sustainability a reasonable goal? Of course. Its basic tenets are reduce, reuse, reclaim and recycle, and the less waste, the better. This is all common sense.
On page 14, European editor Sean Milmo discusses the topic of carbon footprint,” or the amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted in manufacturing and growing of products. This ties into global warming and the release of greenhouse gases, which are becoming increasingly potent issues throughout the world.
The goal is to reduce the amount of energy used to make products, or shift to using vegetable-based products. One such example noted by Mr. Milmo is the growth of vegetable-based sheetfed ink usage throughout Europe.
We will be hearing more about these topics in the coming months and years, and it is unlikely that the public will lose interest in the environment. For the ink industry, it means that there will be more interest in environmentally-friendly solutions, as well as new opportunities.