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BCM Inks Adds Award-Winning PCR Black to Its Environmentally Friendly Inks

By David Savastano , Editor | 06.20.13

Saying that a company is environmentally friendly is one thing, but actually putting the financial and personnel resources behind it is another. Not many companies are dedicated to finding ways to improve the environment as part of their everyday business.

BCM Inks is one company that has emphasized environmentally friendly products long before that came in vogue. Headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, the 25-year-old water-based flexo ink specialist has a long history of developing innovative ink systems for the corrugated market that eliminate environmentally unfriendly ingredients.

Putting a major emphasis on the environment has been a BCM Inks’ trademark since it opened for business in 1988

“Since our inception in 1988, we have always focused on the environment through using environmentally sensitive raw materials, been proponents of ink blending systems, and ensured that we have an energy efficient building,” Rob Callif, vice president, BCM Inks, said.

For example, its Eekoflex inks and varnishes are made from a portion of paper residue, contain no heavy metals, have little to no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are shipped in reground plastic buckets, reused 55 gallon drums or returnable totes. Eekoflex is a viable alternative to traditional water-based, soy or other vegetable commodity-based inks.

“We introduced our Eekoflex inks approximately five years ago, which replaced some of the petroleum-based resins in a water-based ink with pine tree rosins,” Mr. Callif said. “Our customers have been very pleased with the printing and sustainability results of the Eekoflex inks. We have also garnered national attention of our Eekoflex inks by being featured on the news program ‘Eye on America,’ as well as being the first ink company to exhibit at the Walmart Sustainable Packaging Expo.”

BCM Inks’ latest product is its PCR (Post Consumer Recycled) Black. Partnering with Close the Loop, an inkjet cartridge recycler, BCM Inks found a way to re-use the leftover ink, making a water-based flexographic ink for corrugated printing; PCR Black saves more than 200,000 inkjet cartridges from the landfill for every 450 pound drum of ink manufactured.

“Close the Loop, our collaborative partner, collects and recycles inkjet cartridges and toners,” said Mr. Callif. “Close the Loop has a zero waste to landfill policy. During the recycling process, Close the Loop extracted the leftover ink and looked for an ink company to re-use it.”

Mr. Callif said that Close the Loop learned about BCM Inks’ environmentally conscious approach through its research, and approached BCM with the opportunity.

“We thought this was a great idea, as it is good for the environment and falls in line with our sustainability goals,” Mr. Callif added. “It took us approximately a year to develop a water-based flexographic ink for the direct post-print corrugated industry that will print a nice dense black using the ink recovered from recycled ink cartridges.”

Mr. Callif said that Close the Loop has contacts with most major inkjet and toner cartridge companies as well as retailers, and keeps a steady flow of cartridges.

“A program we initiated to help with the collection of inkjet cartridges is an inkjet cartridge collection box printed with PCR Black that you can put in your office,” Mr. Callif noted. “When the box is full with empty inkjet cartridges, you drop it off to your nearest Staples. Staples will send the empty inkjet cartridges to Close the Loop, and we will re-use the leftover ink to make PCR Black. It’s a closed loop process.”

A 10-member panel of independent packaging industry experts liked the idea so much that it recently awarded BCM Inks and Close the Loop the Gold award in the 25th DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation. It is a distinguished honor; past winners include Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Kraft, Heinz and Bemis.

“We are excited and honored to receive the DuPont Award for Packaging Innovation,” Mr. Callif said. “Based on our research, we are the first ink company to receive the award. The feedback has been tremendous so far, as we have had many companies contact us about their interest in PCR Black.”

Mr. Callif noted that BCM Inks is not resting on its laurels, but is actively looking for new ways to improve sustainability.

“We believe in being leaders rather than followers,” said Rob Callif. “We will continue innovating sustainable products and processes.”

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