Plastics replaced with paper

The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

The oil oligarchy must be getting anxious. Not only are oil prices way down because of the reduction in transportation and the rise in renewable energy, but plastics are being steadily phased out across industries. In the graphics business we are seeing some highly innovative approaches to replacing plastics in all sorts of areas, from paper bottles through to polybags made from compostable materials. More importantly some very large companies have committed to removing plastics in their products. This will help drive change in supply chains, and help to wean all players off the plastics habit.

Much of the drive to ditch plastics comes from consumer pressure. People are appalled at the damage waste plastics causes. If people choose not to buy a produce because of its plastics packaging, sellers have to respond. This is especially urgent in sectors already under threat to change their business models such as newspaper publishing.

One of the largest global newspaper publishers is News International. A few years ago News UK announced that it wants to cut the use of single-use plastics in packaging its delivered product from 800 tonnes per year, to zero. Over the last year or so News UK has ditched polybags for its titles as part of this commitment, replacing them with compostable alternatives based on potato starch. Where possible, such as on supermarket shelves, the bagging was eliminated altogether.

News UK recently announced the removal of the final 250 tonnes per year of single use plastics. Instead of single use plastic bands on its newspapers and inner magazines, News UK will use paper banding. Starting in the South East of England the paper banding will be phased in throughout all UK regions, a process expected to be complete by mid-October. Using paper bands creates a new offering to advertisers, who have been receptive to the move. They see it as a way to deliver advertising messages, but also to link to sustainability.

The partnership between advertisers and consumers is a powerful force for change. It’s what pushes large corporations to revise and update their policies and offerings. In the graphics industry big publishers such as News International can make a real difference. In the newspaper business sustainable advertising offers an interesting new approach that is both direct and an easy sell, for advertisers and for consumers.

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa GraphicsEFIFespaFujifilmHPKodakMiraclonRicohSpindrift, Splash PRUnity Publishing and Xeikon.