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INGEDE Press Release 3/2001

Digital Print Technologies:

A Nightmare for Paper Recycling?

Many digital printing inks can hardly be removed

(Short Version)

Digital printing technologies are gaining a growing share of the market. In a near future, several of these printed products will end up in the recovered paper collection from households and offices, becoming part of the raw material to be recycled by papermakers. But the deinkability of several digital prints could turn out to become a threat for paper recycling systems of today: Some of these prints deink rather easily while some others lead to severe problems, which may endanger all the deinking process. A series of tests performed by scientists of the French Centre Technique du Papier (CTP) has also shown that all waterbased inks lead to severe deinking difficulties.

Only a few of the digital printing machine suppliers joined a workshop on Digital Print Deinking, recently held at CTP in Grenoble, where the results of current research regarding the deinkability of digital prints were presented. The workshop was organised by CTP and supported by INGEDE, who represents the major European deinkers, and the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME).

Problems are created especially by pigment based inkjet inks, used more and more by the major office inkjet printers (HP, Epson, Canon, Lexmark and others) all over the world. The resulting prints are not only undeinkable – when present in quantities as small as 10 per cent among other recovered paper to recycle, they also spoil the deinkability of the whole mixture. It is therefore of prime importance for the paper mills who use recovered paper as their main resource for new graphic paper, to cooperate with inkjet ink and printer manufacturers in order to find solutions for this problem. Similar problems are also observed with other waterbased inks used in the new Elcography printing process. The deinkability of new waterbased inks (e. g. by Scitex, Barco) has to undergo further investigations.

Concerning toner based prints, some prints lead to acceptable deinkability while some others are not deinkable. It is especially the case with new "Indigo" prints and also, to a lower extent, with some xerographic prints. The deinkability of laser and copier prints differ quite widely depending on parameters like printing machine, toner type or fusing conditions. More detailed work has to be done together with the toner, printer and copier suppliers to find inks providing both a good printability and a good deinkability.

CTP is currently organising a research project, already sponsored by INGEDE and ADEME. In order to be successful, the project work should result in focussing ink developers to consider possible effects on the deinking process when looking for new ink formulations. INGEDE and CTP hope that more ink and printing machine suppliers, printers, or chemical suppliers will find it useful and necessary to participate in this project which will start beginning of 2002.

INGEDE is an association of leading European paper manufacturers founded in 1989. INGEDE aims at promoting utilisation of recovered graphic paper (newsprint, magazines and office paper) and improving the conditions for an extended use of recovered paper for the production of graphic and hygiene papers.

19 December, 2001

A (German) summary of the Workshop with some illustrations can be found here. English summary will follow

If you have any questions we will try to help you.


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Last update: 11 January 2007