Much of the drive to ditch plastics comes from consumer pressure – they are appalled at the damage plastic waste causes. If people choose not to buy a product because of its plastic packaging, sellers have to respond. This is especially urgent in sectors already under threat to change their business models, such as newspaper publishing.
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 plastic is being steadily phased out across industries. In the graphics business, we are seeing some highly innovative approaches to replacing plastic 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 plastic in their products. This will help drive change in supply chains, and help to wean all players off the plastic habit.
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 plastic 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 plastic. 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 is what pushes large corporations to revise and update their policies and offerings. In the graphics industry, big publishers 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.
This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. Verdigris is supported by: Agfa Graphics (www.Agfa.com), Digital Dots (www.digitaldots.org), EFI (www.efi.com), FESPA (www.fespa.com), Fujifilm (www.fujifilm.com/sustainability/), HP (www.hp.com), Kodak (www.Kodak.com/go/sustainability), Practical Publishing (www.practicalpublishing.co.za), Ricoh (www.ricoh.com), Unity Publishing (http://unity-publishing.co.uk) and Xeikon (www.xeikon.com).
THE VERDIGRIS PROJECT