Doing their bit: print and signage recycling schemes
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By Morwenna Kearns
2 December 2011
The Pyramid Recycling Scheme involves distributing cages for certain recyclable waste to selected Pyramid customers
'Environment' is a busy buzzword at present, with many industry spokespeople backing recycling and materials efficiency, the launch of new trade fairs and 'green' paths around established shows, and new waste management and recycling schemes for the wide-format print and display sector. There is a danger, perhaps, of those in the industry feeling bombarded with information designed to make them feel guilty, or wondering what's reality and what's greenwashing. However, after catching up with some new and developed recycling programmes, the most common word heard is 'success'.
Pyramid Display Materials is one supplier to have introduced a programme recently. Each month, three articulated lorries leave Pyramid's branches filled with solid and foam PVC, acrylic, polycarbonate, polypropylene, PET and aluminium composite, and make their way to the company's recycling partner. In addition, Pyramid collects the waste – mostly offcuts from converted orders – from a number of customers, including Hollywood Monster.
As well as doing more than its bit for the environment, the Pyramid Recycling Scheme may form a stronger bond between supplier and customer, which tends to improve any business. Furthermore, it is allowing Pyramid to introduce recycled products.
"Everybody in our industry from the brand owners through to the printers will always use materials that can be recycled given the chance; that's just normal in the current market," states Neil McCarthy, head of sales and marketing, Pyramid. "At Pyramid though we want to take it to the next stage and actually promote recyclable products made with recycled content."
Soon the company plans to release the Aluprint eco aluminium composite sheet, the All Weather Board – a waterproof display board – and a range of polypropylene printable products called PolylinePro R100.
Meanwhile, Steve Flory, managing director of Hudson Signs and Suffolk Offset, describes its free Paper and Signage Scrappage Scheme, launched in September with recycling company Sackers, as a 'huge success'. "Everyone wants to do their bit to help the planet and this idea has enabled us, and many of our customers, to do just that," says Flory. "And I'm thrilled to say it has been a huge success, with several local companies making use of the free scrappage scheme."
Out-of-date and spoiled material from print, old signage and excess paper are collected from the three companies' customers, which are then recycled at Sackers's treatment plant. The scheme's users receive certificates showing how much recycling has been achieved.
"For every order we receive on our recycled stock at Suffolk Offset and Hudson Signs, we will provide a hedgerow to be planted in managed environment on a farm site in Suffolk," adds Flory, again demonstrating the importance of using recycled materials as part of the cycle.
Both these programmes have helped suppliers and their customers alike reduce their environmental footprint. The Let's Do More! recycling scheme for users of Mimaki's ink cartridges managed by distributor Hybrid Services offers a credit for a free cartridge in return for every 45 that Hybrid collects, giving a financial incentive as well as sustainability value. Duncan Jefferies, marketing manager for Hybrid Services, states that diverting 40 tonnes of cartridges from landfill annually has been 'a quite extraordinary success', yet is 'logistically demanding' for Hybrid, which handles the entire cost of collecting, collating, stripping and preparing the cartridges ready for recycling.
"Cartridge collections are grouped together so we ask for customers' patience as we co-ordinate routes," explains Jefferies. "It would be a pointless exercise if the carbon footprint of fulfilling the scheme outweighed the environmental advantages that it ultimately delivers! Recycling – and residual waste ink disposal – is carried out by our partners and we're confident that the combination of these processes really does make a significant difference."
Recycling programmes are not confined to the UK, of course, and a global effort is what's needed to keep the wheels turning. HP offers a free used substrate take-back initiative in 19 countries, while an additional scheme in 50 countries handles consumables recycling. HP explains that this allows PSPs who use Designjet L28500 and Designjet L26500 printers, for instance, to return ink cartridges, maintenance cartridges, waste ink containers and print-heads to HP.
HP points out that the ink cartridge packaging features information on the scheme, which immediately informs users. It is simple but obvious measures like this that make recycling programmes a success; if people are made absolutely aware of them they will use them. So if the trade press, organisations and shows bang on about the 'green issue', it is to ensure it is part of the industry's consciousness, not an afterthought.
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