The Difference in Printing Pre-Consumer and Post-Recyclable Materials

Post recyclable material is a material that has already been recycled. These materials can include paper, cardboard, plastics, metals, film, and more. Most of it falls into the paper/cardboard category. Many customers have great intentions of environmental stewardship and want to reduce the environmental footprint in their product manufacturing. However, many customers do not realize that when it comes to printing on these materials it is typically more expensive and lower quality than pre-consumer materials.

Consistency is a benchmark for printing and packaging companies. Whether they are running thousands of labels, or a few hundred a printer wants a consistent finish, look and feel so at the point of purchase every product on the shelf looks the same. Inconsistent colors, ink runs, smudges, and other flaws can kill product presentation. Customers want consistency in the finished product because it affects brand image and sales.

Think of it this way. The majority of auto manufacturers ban paint shop workers from using antiperspirants because they can flake. When the paint goes on an auto body that has these flakes the paint will become pitted affecting the finish on the vehicle. Or after it is painted a worker can prep it for clear-coat and the flakes get trapped between the paint and the clear-coat finish. Imagine two vehicles of the same make, year, and color on a dealership lot. They are identical except one has pitted paint and the other does not. Which car is the consumer going to choose? Fortunately, most auto manufacturers catch the problem through a series of quality inspections, but sometimes a vehicle gets shipped because someone missed it.

When a printer begins to print labels for your product a post recyclable material with inconsistent fiber construction can be a nightmare like the pitted new vehicle. Things like color and ink absorption can be very inconsistent using post recyclable sources. Print customers seeking sustainability in requesting these materials can sacrifice their brand appeal versus the competition despite good intentions.

One of the best ways a manufacturer can practice environmental stewardship is to select an experienced printing and packaging vendor committed to sustainable practices in their company. For example, they recycle, manage their power usage, use water-based inks avoiding resins and inks that contain VOCs and other toxic vapors that can contribute to pollution. Water-based inks also get better density and color match than the alternatives. Check to see if the printer has access to FSC® (The Forest Stewardship Council) approved paper sources. These paper sources are a better fit than post recyclable material and they provide consistent quality ensuring brand continuity throughout the process.

What is FSC®? FSC certification ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits. “The FSC Principles and Criteria provide a foundation for all forest management standards globally, including the FSC US National Standard (v1.0) that guides forest management certification in the U.S.” FSC® Forest Stewardship Council®

Sustainability, environmentally friendly, and green are great terms, but sometimes they can be confusing for customers because they lack the knowledge and experience in regard to these terms and printing sources. The result can be damaging in terms of quality, brand image, and costs. Experienced printing and packaging professionals committed to sustainable practices help educated and guide their customers by providing value through quality, consistency, customer service, and satisfaction.

At Century Printing and Packaging we take great pride in helping our customers achieve their goals through quality and consistency that begins by listening to them. We have 27+ years of experience with water-based inks. We have access to FSC certified paper suppliers committed to ethical environmental stewardship. Contact us today about your printing and packaging needs.

Ben Waldrop, President
Century Printing and Packaging, Inc.
Greer, SC 29651