Design for Recycling, Sustainability, Circular Economy

Keeping print on packaging to a minimum

08/09/2021 | 2 min read
Florian Aschermayer

Keeping print on packaging to a minimum

Less is often more – and it can be good for recycling and sustainability, too.

In the context of printed packaging, minimalism provides a clear advantage in terms of sustainability. The whiter or more transparent the packaging solution, and the less print it carries, the higher the quality of the recycled material it will subsequently yield. That is why Greiner Packaging is actively supporting minimally printed packaging as a packaging producer and continually expanding this commitment with the future in mind.

Focusing on the essentials

This stripped-back solution looks different depending on the printing or decoration process used. In the case of products featuring dry offset printing, for instance, reducing the use of printing inks increases the purity of the print. If possible, direct printing should be avoided in this context, as printing inks may lead to contamination when food packaging is recycled, making the print incompatible with food applications. This is why Greiner Packaging has put every effort into reducing the amount of printing ink it uses – for example, in its new Promo Cup. The cup only requires one-twentieth of the printing ink used in a standard printed product (measured in grams). By making this change, Greiner Packaging is demonstrating what can be done and signaling its full readiness to work together with customers on new designs using less printing ink.

Minimizing of printing on packaging results in higher recyclate qualities and is therefore recommended by RecyClass to improve packaging recyclability.


Current recommendations for decoration

Reducing the area decorated to less than 50 percent (based on the outer surface of the packaging) improves the recognizability of the underlying material and the purity of the print when direct printing is used.

• Use printing inks that comply with the EuPIA guidelines (required by law in the EU).

• Avoid using metallic inks and particles due to their increased potential to migrate and contaminate the printed surface.

Keeping print on packaging to a minimum has a positive effect on its recyclability. The clean design also makes it easier for the consumer to concentrate on the brand and the product. Ultimately, less printing results in higher-quality recycled material. That is essential if we want to achieve the highest possible recycling rates and take the circular economy to the next level.

Konrad Wasserbauer, circular economy director at Greiner Packaging

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