An Industry-Wide Headache
Everyone, it seems, loves inkjet technology. It’s efficient, easy on the budget and there’s certainly no denying the benefits of inkjet when it comes to personalization. Bottom line: inkjet-enabled solutions offer one of the rare growth sectors for an industry grappling with decline in many traditional products. So, the realization that inkjet-printed paper isn’t the most recycling-friendly is cause for some concern. Green, after all, is where it’s at in today’s marketplace. To have to explain one of your most value-added offerings might fly in the face of end-users’ green initiatives, well...that’s a problem. The topic sparked some lively debate during Graph Expo, held Oct. 26-29 at McCormick Place in Chicago and also at DRUPA, May 29-June 11 at the Trade Fair Center in Düsseldorf.
The good news is, experts and specialists from within the highly solution-oriented printing and paper manufacturing industries are already on the case. Following is a brief look at some of the issues and how they are being addressed.
The Munich, Germany-based International Association of the Deinking Industry, (INGEDE) consists of 40 mostly European mills. Particularly within the past year, the organization has voiced concern that water-based inks from the next generation of inkjet web presses pose challenges to the paper recycling process. The fear is high-speed inkjet web presses deposit water-based inkjet inks into porous stocks which soak up the inks like sponges. Subsequently, the inks can’t be successfully removed during recycling, and then bleed into the pulp during the repulping process, causing the pulp to darken. Recycling mills seem to be coping with casual production of inkjet prints from households and offices, maintained INGEDE. “But, the high-volume, high-speed webs change the scenario,” said the group’s spokesman, Axel Fischer.
Introducing the pulp into the recycling stream, even in small amounts, could have severe consequences for graphic paper recycling. The organization even suggested inkjet-printed products be labeled as “Not Recyclable.” However, at a recent European roundtable of paper industry representatives and digital print experts, inkjet manufacturers formally joined the talks for the first time. Said Fischer, “INGEDE hopes this helps in the long run to direct further development towards better deinkable systems.”