A Bi Monthly Magazine on Printed and Digital Communications

2023 FTA Sustainability Excellence Awards conferred


Printers, trade shops and manufacturers alike are capturing accolades for their endeavors to protect planet, people and profession through smart production and collaborative partnerships. FTA’s 2023 Sustainability Excellence Award winners are but four examples.

Firms receiving the prestigious 2023 FTA Sustainability Excellence Awards recognizing faithful stewardship of the environment—two process-based, two product-connected—list out as follows:

  • RKW Finland Oy/Marvaco Oy: Winner, Sustainability Programs
  • Sun Chemical Corp: Winner, Innovations in Sustainability
  • AWT Labels & Packaging: Honorable Mention, Sustainability Programs
  • Siegwerk: Honorable Mention, Innovations in Sustainability

On the plant or sustainability programs level, processes developed and implemented by Marvaco/RKW and AWT were deemed to have served to reduce the environmental impact of printing and simultaneously improve workers’ health/safety.

Innovations in sustainability distinctions highlighted Sun Chemical’s and Siegwerk’s inclusion of new technology, formulations or techniques, developed to mitigate printing’s effect on Earth’s ecosystem, as well as its contributions to bettering people’s physical well-being.

RKW Finland Oy & Marvaco Oy’s Winning Entry

“Total Solution for Expanded Gamut Printing in Collaboration with Prepress Supplier”—the entry submitted by Marvaco and RKW Finland Oy of Pori, Finland—credited elimination of spot colors to particular benefits accrued. Specifically listed: reduction of ink and volatile organic compound (VOC) volumes, energy conservation, shortened setup time, lower amounts of setup waste and elimination of press stops.

In addition to process efficiencies, smaller environmental footprints and enhanced price competitiveness were associated with RKW and Marvaco’s move to EG. While transitioning:

  • RKW, guided by Marvaco, moved from thicker plates to thin plates (45 mil).
  • Plate production changed from mercury-containing UV light tubes to energy-efficient, solid-state LED plate format.
  • Printing plates produced near RKW’s production site (5-km. from the factory) eliminated unnecessary transportation.
  • VOC emissions attributed to plate processing were reduced up to 50 percent.

“Our vision and goal are to provide our customers always the highest possible print quality and service level at the lowest possible environmental impact. Sustainable packaging solutions are today’s winners,” said Pekka Saariluoma, marketing director, RKW Finland.

She lamented, “The key drivers for this are highly motivated and well-trained personnel, the best available technology, close cooperation and a shared long-term commitment with our prepress partner. Receiving the esteemed FTA Sustainability Excellence Award definitely gives us extra energy and motivation to continue our journey toward an even more sustainable future.”

Judge Nikola Juhasz of Sun Chemical decreed, “Marvaco and RKW’s application was excellent, comprehensive, quantitative and detailed… It had a very clear description of the EG program and benefits, including with substantial data to support. Well done!” Judge Brigitte Bisson of Just Born added, “I was pleased to see advancements in EG and plate innovation.”

Sun Chemical’s Winning Entry

“Monoweb-Enabling Coatings for Packaging Sustainability”—Sun Chemical’s entry for 2023—came on the heels of the company’s honorable mention in 2022. It presented monoweb film structures as alternatives to laminations.

Sun Chemical’s portfolio of monoweb protective coatings, including the SunCure high-resistance, high-durability UV flexography product, as well as solvent- and water-based versions, permitted monoweb films to replace lamination for applications in wraparound labels and flexible packaging—including wrappers and pouches.

Utilizing monowebs in lieu of laminations saved on use of adhesive, film, processing time and final label weight. Commensurate savings helped to reduce the environmental footprint and conserve on the use of virgin resources. Simultaneously, it helped increase recyclability of the finished structures, which promoted increased circularity. Achievements like that were heralded in industry certifications, so important to brand owners, that were printed right on the package labels.

“Sun Chemical is so excited to be the winner in the Innovations in Sustainability category this year. To be recognized for monoweb coatings and the impact they have on driving circularity in packaging is tremendous. It recognizes our approach and commitment to the market,” commented Heather Buchholz, the company’s manager, global marketing.

Judge Marygrace Quigley of Fortis Solutions Group commented, “Sun Chemical’s application was interesting in many capacities: sustainability, durability and lower costs.”

While, Miraclon’s Dan Magallanes, another judge, added, “Sun Chemical submitted a well-written presentation that included proof of performance, as well as data to back up claims.”

AWT Labels & Packaging’s Honorable Mention

“Fully Recyclable Resealable Flexible Packaging”—Minneapolis-based AWT Labels & Packaging’s entry—described fully recyclable reseal flexible packaging with numerous environmental benefits:

  1. The package does not require the amount of material needed to create a traditional reseal package with a zipper closure.
  2. Over time, less material used in production equated to less material employed to produce the same number of packages.
  3. Most notably, the primary package and closure are made from the same material, so the consumer can put the entire package into conventional recycling streams, avoiding the need to separate the closure from the primary package.
  4. Having no extra work to do increased the probability that consumers recycled the package.
  5. There was also no separation requirement when the package reached the municipal recycling facility (MRF).

Bill Orme, marketing manager at AWT Labels & Packaging, explained, “This package addresses a real need in the recyclable space; a peel and reseal construction that does not have to be separated into multiple parts for the recycle-ready portion to be introduced to a recycling stream. Consumers can put the entire package into a recycling container, knowing that all of it will be recycled.”

Echoing those words, Judge Christian Rios of Handgards commented, “A resealable package that is recyclable without separation is a great way to reduce waste! The consumer does not need to move the contents to a different container to keep the contents fresh. This reduces the number of disposable bags that are used. Making the closure and package out of the same material greatly increases the chances that the package is properly recycled.”

Siegwerk: Honorable Mention, Innovations in Sustainability

“Printable-Tunable Light Barrier Coatings”—Siegwerk’s entry—targeted elimination of hard-to-recycle (white/colored) plastics in favor of clearer, more sustainable alternatives, without compromising on light barrier performance.

From an environmental impact standpoint, using printable-tunable light barrier coatings achieved near-clear plastic packaging that was recycled easily and at a lower carbon footprint than hard-to-recycle plastics.

“Light-sensitive products need protection from UV and visible light. Today’s light block packaging solutions offered in the market are not recycle-friendly. Siegwerk’s patent-pending light block solution changes all of that by providing brands with a printable coating that can be tuned to achieve minimal light block sensitivity—all the way across the light spectrum to full coverage in the highest wavelengths,” said Zack Meister, global business development manager, flexible packaging.

In addition, printable-tunable light barrier coatings can be tailored to work with existing recycling streams, such as floatables (stay-on label inks), washable inks (deinkable shrink sleeves) and monomaterial films (MDO-PE).

Siegwerk’s innovative light barrier coating solution can be tuned to block up to 99.8 percent of light in the wavelength range of 200-nm. to 900-nm.

Rios commented, “Siegwerk’s entry tackles a sustainability challenge in a growing market.” In speaking to all winners collectively, he declared, “These are solutions that can help make a big difference.”

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