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Press Release 3/2003

Recyclability of Printed Products:

More Effort, More Chemicals –

and Still Worse Results

A recent study initiated by INGEDE shows alarming results: Paper recycling becomes more and more difficult. The plants become more sophisticated, more chemicals are applied, but still the results are worse than ever.

What are the reasons? The deinkability of the recovered paper is decreasing – as more paper is collected, more and more papers that do not qualify for deinking are among this paper. And generally printed products have changed – newspapers contain more coloured pictures, bringing more ink on to less paper. A huge problem are also adhesives that come with labels and self-sealing envelopes. Digital printing technologies add new challenges – ink jet inks bring water soluble colorants or minute pigment particles that cannot be removed.

For the first time, the members of the paper chain have agreed on a common approach to improve the situation: The German "Technical Committee Deinking" has just agreed upon "orientation values" for deinkability and adhesive applications.

For more than ten years INGEDE continuously cooperates with associations of publishers, ink manufacturers, adhesive manufacturers in order to identify sources for recycling problems and improve the recyclability of printed products.

In 1998, the "Technical Committee Deinking", a unique group of representatives of publishers, ink manufacturers, adhesive manufacturers and the paper industry signed the "Guide to an optimum utilisation of recovered graphic paper". With this "Guide" the members of the paper chain agree e. g. that the "trend in newspaper printing to apply growing quantities of ink onto ever thinner paper brings an unfavourable quantitative ratio of ink to paper". To overcome this and other problems, the voluntary agreement states that it is "necessary that everyone involved in the paper chain – including parties placing the order and designers of print products – give due consideration to the requirements of recycling".

This agreement was a blueprint for Europe: The "Guide to an Optimum Recyclability of Printed Graphic Paper", being a successful example of a voluntary agreement, was signed by six leading European organisations in 2002. INGEDE's work has pioneered cooperations between paper industry and printers in Europe: CEPIPRINT's Recycling Committee has published quality criteria for printed papers that are also based on research initiated by INGEDE.

(Download the "Guide to an Optimum Recyclability of Printed Graphic Paper" here)

How do you define "recyclable"? Research funded by INGEDE identified a set of parameters that define the quality of the deinked pulp – and depend on the quality of the recovered paper. The deinked pulp has to show high reflection (brightness), the ink should be easily removable, leading to a high ink elimination. Optical cleanliness is a criterion defined by scanner based image analysis. It identifies specks that can be caused by impurities like UV ink particles or pieces of Indigo ink film. Colorimetric analyses return a parameter that quantifies color shades – these can be caused by soluble ink jet inks. Finally, the white water should not be discoloured by the printing ink, this is controlled by measuring the filtrate darkening of a pulp sample.

Based on these parameters, the "Technical Committee Deinking" has agreed upon "orientation values" for the deinkability of a paper product. The associations represented in the committee want to use these parameters as benchmarks for their current and future print products. A preliminary set of orientation values for adhesive applications, a potential source for stickies, is currently under discussion. Further investigations are necessary to confirm these.

The first application for the orientation values is a new project investigating the recyclability of several newspapers in cooperation with Ringier (Switzerland) and Axel Springer Verlag (Germany).

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.

15 October 2003

Attention Editors (not to be published):

This press release was published on the occasion of a press conference hosted by INGEDE at the IfraExpo in Leipzig, Germany.

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


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Last update: 05 February 2007