Focus on circular economy and reduced climate impact
New criteria for printing companies and printed matters have been launched. As one of the world’s leading ecolabels, with a holistic perspective, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel takes yet another step towards a more sustainable printing industry. As e-commerce has increased more sustainable packaging materials is needed. Therefore, printed transport packages can also be ecolabelled.
– We are in a hurry to reverse the trend and contribute to a lower climate impact along with a more circular economy. Therefore, printed matter should be designed for recycling and meet strict environmental requirements, says Anders Jacobsson at Ecolabelling Sweden. The Nordic Swan Ecolabel is one of the most comprehensive and advanced ecolabels out there, taking into consideration a product’s entire life cycle from raw material to the printing process, and back into the loop. Thus, the new criteria efficiently guide businesses in the graphic industry wishing to take the lead for a more sustainable development, says Anders Jacobsson, advisor at Ecolabelling Sweden.
E-commerce requires large amounts of packaging material
As the shopping habits are changing and more businesses are moving out on the internet, more packing materials are being used. For example, the number of packages sent has increased by 30 % within a year. Today, PostNord alone handles 200 000 home deliveries each day. Only in Sweden, around 50 million packages are sent through PostNord yearly, meaning the total amount is much larger than that. The Nordic Swan Ecolabel criteria have opened for printed packaging for transport-/postal-/web shop packages. Only paper packaging is allowed, as it is easier to recycle. Paper and cardboard have the highest recycling rate, 84, 8 % according to Eurostat.
The Swan Effect
Since 1995, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel has developed their environmental requirements successively, influencing the printing industry to move forward. Found in several industries, this phenomenon is called the Swan Effect and refers to ecolabelled printing companies pushing their competitors to move forward in a sustainable direction. Demand from buyers and procurers further urge on an increased supply of ecolabelled printed matter. Per Marklund, senior to the graphic industry, has studied the Swan Effect up close:
– It is the demand from customers that push the development forward. The Nordic Swan Ecolabel has created a better working environment at the printing companies with less chemicals and cleaner waste in smaller amounts. The advantage of the Swan Ecolabel is measurable limit values, upgraded over time. The new criteria with an increased demand on circular economy and reduced climate impact is a necessary improvement. A Nordic Swan Ecolabel licence is now becoming even more important. The printing companies get increased incentives to use raw materials that can be recycled, and thus contribute to a larger share of renewable material.
Sustainable paper and controlled chemicals promote climate and circular economy
The major part of the CO2 emissions come from the production of paper. Nordic Swan Ecolabelled printing companies have reduced the environmental and climate impact throughout the life cycle due to requirements of sustainably produced paper and reduced energy consumption. Environmental impact is also reduced by using chemicals that meet strict requirements and that do not hinder the recycling process of the printed matter – this promotes circular economy.
A Nordic Swan Ecolabelled printing company:
• Meets strict requirements for paper. At least 60 % of the printing company’s total annual consumption of paper is inspected or ecolabelled paper, which is an increase from 25 % in the former criteria generation.
• Meets strict requirements for substrates printed on such as textile, plastic, or board material. At least 85 % of the printing company's total annual consumption of substrates other than paper is inspected – this is done to ensure compliance with strict requirements for chemicals used in finishing of the substrates.
• Meets strict energy requirements and thereby contribute to a lower climate impact.
• Meets strict requirements for chemicals harmful to the environment and/or human health.
• Reduces emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC).
• Promotes circular economy through strict requirements for waste management, and through requirements for recycling of printed matters.
Nordic Swan Ecolabelled printed matters
Nordic Swan Ecolabelled printed matter has reduced environmental and climate impact throughout the lifecycle through sustainably produced paper and other substrates printed on, along with a reduced energy consumption. Environmental impact is also reduced by using chemicals with low environmental toxicity that do not hinder the recycling process of the printed matter – this promotes circular economy.
A Nordic Swan Ecolabelled printed matter:
• Meets strict environmental requirements and energy requirements to the substrate. The printed matter contains 100 % Nordic Swan Ecolabelled, inspected or ecolabelled paper, board, textile, or panels.
• Meets strict requirements for chemicals which are harmful to the environment and/or human health.
• Does not contain PVC, fragrance, or scent.
• Promotes circular economy through requirements for recycling of printed matters.
Read more about the criteria for printing companies and printed matter 041