Sustainability has moved from a marketing buzzword to an essential part of every company’s business strategy, as the world turns its focus to saving the planet from climate disaster. In every aspect of modern life, consumers are demanding to know the impact that each product has on the environment, and packaging has been vilified in the public conscience. Each piece of plastic is perceived as detrimental to the collective future irrespective of its power to reduce the mountain of food that is wasted every day and the role it plays in ensuring consumer safety.
The UN warns of severe future consequences for the natural world and its biodiversity unless we all take drastic action now. It stated that “to preserve a ‘liveable’ climate, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to net 0 by 2050.” Imagery of forest fires and decimation, severe flooding and plastic-filled oceans has affected the population, alongside the ongoing extinction of many species of animals, birds, butterflies and insects. Global concern has now accelerated to ‘danger level’.
For the label industry these ominous predictions mean increased pressure to clean up its operations and reduce wasteful practices in answer to demand from brand owners looking to elevate their green credentials. Printing companies are responding by digitising processes and reducing waste through the entire value chain.
Companies wanting to future proof their businesses should invest in digital printing, which is a more sustainable way of producing labels and packaging. Digital offers many kinds of efficiencies and savings, such as:
- Print on demand
- Shorter runs
- Low waste
- Reduced setup times
- Just-in-time delivery
- Highly automated production
Individual digital technologies can provide even more benefits: dry toner technology in particular excels due to its low use of energy and water, and the fact there are no harmful chemicals or substances of very high concern (SVHCs) in the toner.
In line with Flint Group’s 2030 environmental strategy and the UN’s latest guidelines, Xeikon aims to radically reduce its environmental impact and energy consumption. The first step is a comprehensive inventory and an overall evaluation, as the company implements considered eco-friendly choices within the structure of its business model.
As a digital innovator and manufacturer of printing systems for the global label industry, Xeikon has set out its own ambitious sustainability plan for the three years to 2024. Some of the many aspects that are being closely scrutinised:
- Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,
- Better energy and site management,
- Responsible water management
- Waste elimination
Xeikon is also developing new innovations that will improve its ecosystem impact and is actively looking at new printing concepts for the future.
The sustainability plan lays out a timeline for reducing energy consumption in a variety of different ways starting with digital print carbon footprint calculations; de-inking of paper and plastic; savings on the composition of marking materials and the reduction of LED lamp usage on press.
Xeikon is also planning to move away from the use of plastics in labels and packaging towards more sustainable packaging, including for transport and deliveries. A key development will be significantly reducing the number of business trips and purchasing electric cars, along with installing charging stations. In terms of ecosystem impact, apart from its established recycling campaign, the company is also working on a new solution for its toner bottles.
As one of the first examples of ecologically sound site management, Xeikon converted its factories to 100% green energy more than 10 years ago in 2010. Now, it will add solar panels to all its buildings to increase the amount of self-generated electricity that it uses.
As a different future unfolds for the label printing industry, it is clear that more than lip service has to be done in order to be “green and clean”. Every company must take responsibility for the global future and work towards clear sustainability goals.
Xeikon is playing its part with changes to the structure of its processes and procedures, while continuing to use the latest communication technologies as an integral part of the business model. Customers can be assured that Xeikon’s digital products and services have been developed with the particular attention and care for the environment.