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New EU Ecolabel to promote sustainable printed products

September 20, 2012

Print companies given opportunity to promote sustainable printed products following EU Ecolabel approval.

After eight years of negotiations, the EU Ecolabel for printed paper products has been approved by the European Commission, giving print companies an opportunity to encourage the use of sustainable printed products, reports PrintWeek.

To gain accreditation, printer companies can have individual products assessed against the Ecolabel, with eligible products needing to consist of “at least 90 percent by weight of paper, paperboard or paper-based substrates, or at least 80 percent by weight for books, catalogues, pads booklets or forms”.

In addition, products must be printed on paper bearing the Ecolabel, and criteria applying to other factors within the product’s life-cycle must be met, including the types of consumables used, whether it can be recycled, emissions, management of waste and energy use. Furthermore, should certain parts of the product be sub-contracted to another supplier, they must also fulfil the accreditation requirements.

While the label does not yet apply to envelopes or paper-based packaging and wrapping, the recent establishment of an EU Converted Paper product group aiming to revise all “products of the paper family” by 2016 may mean more products will be eligible in future.

Marcus Timson, Co-Director of the EcoPrint Europe show reportedly stated that while there is confusion in the print industry regarding environmental accreditation due to their being a number of different labels, the new EU Ecolabel “might be an opportunity to promote printers’ sustainability – print is very sustainable if done properly,” pointing out that when considering the environmental impact of a product “the consumer doesn’t think of print but of design and substrates.”

However, Timson said that SMEs may neglect the EU Ecolabel due to the time and cost involved when applying for accreditation, but may be favoured by bigger companies already focusing on environmental management schemes.

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