Cradle-to-Cradle revolutionizing the printing industry
Bäch SZ – UV printing inks have already influenced the printing industry to a significant extent. However, it is only following a collaboration between Werner & Mertz, Siegwerk Druckfarben and EPEA Switzerland that these inks have also become compatible with the circular economy.
Werner & Mertz, the German company of brands for detergents, care products and cleaning products, has been working with EPEA Switzerland, the accredited expert for Cradle-to-Cradle Certified and Material Health Certificate certifications, as partners for eight years already. Together, the two organizations have developed to market maturity several innovations that are compatible with the principles of the circular economy. When Werner & Mertz and EPEA Switzerland decided to create UV printing inks in accordance with the Cradle-to-Cradle circular economy principles a few years ago, Siegwerk Druckfarben was their first port of call. Together, the three partners resolved in 2016 to sustainably transform the printing industry.
UV printing inks can be printed onto numerous surfaces as well as on paper. They are therefore well-suited to being used for all types of packaging. The inks set hard immediately after being exposed to UV light. For this reason, they do not need to be bound with the material on which they are printed. However, the pigments in UV printing inks could not be recycled until the revolutionary collaboration of these three partners. In order to change this, Werner & Mertz and Siegwerk consistently worked on a project to develop UV printing inks that firstly complied with the Cradle-to-Cradle requirements and secondly achieved the required level of print quality. It is not just the pigments themselves that are responsible for this, as Immo Sander, who advanced this development at Werner & Mertz, explains. It is rather more a case of ensuring an effective overall interaction between the printing ink in question and the surface to be printed.
Nevertheless, their experiments were successful and eventually led to a breakthrough, EPEA Switzerland founder and CEO Albin Kälin says. The developed UV offset colors were awarded the Material Health Certificate GOLD and are today the only Cradle-to-Cradle certified UV ink system with gold status. The certification represents another step in the right direction, comments Alina Marm, Head of Circular Economy Hubs at Siegwerk Druckfarben. As a family company with 190 years of history, the printing ink manufacturers see it as their responsibility towards future generations to constantly further improve the ecological footprint and thereby proactively advance the compatibility of packaging formats with the circular economy.