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Press Release 1/98

How to make magazines, catalogues or mass-circulation more suitable for recycling

INGEDE informs printers and publishers on problems related to waste paper treatment

Increasing quantities of waste paper are being recovered–the German paper industry has long since exceeded its utilisation rate target for newspapers and magazines as laid down in its self-imposed AGRAPA obligation of September 1994 vis-à-vis the Federal Minister of Environmental Affairs.

However, printers, publishers and designers of paper products alike are often not aware of the problems their ideas and demands cause when the waste paper is recycled into new paper. There are inks which are more difficult to remove than others, apparent ecological advantages of, e. g., soy bean oil in printing inks substantially interfere with the recycling process, in a large number of digital printing techniques pigment particles bond almost completely with paper fibres and thus can hardly be separated again. Publishers and printing industry have committed themselves to use as far as possible materials and techniques not impeding the recycling process. Nevertheless, this does not always materialize, since they often simply lack the necessary background knowledge. This is why experts of the Institut für Papierfabrikation, TU Darmstadt (Institute for Paper Manufacture, Technological University of Darmstadt), of the Papiertechnische Stiftung (PTS) and of the adhesive and printing ink industry informed on measures to improve the recyclability of graphical printing products at a Munich meeting jointly organized by INGEDE and AGRAPA (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Graphische Papiere, Graphical Paper Association). The quantity of collected waste paper increases, but the quality continuously deteriorates. With the introduction of the so-called dual system and household waste paper bins, more and more adverse material is being thrown into the paper bins. Paper boards and white paper frequently have to be separated manually with, e. g., small and minute shreds making things rather difficult. "Some years ago, it was easily possible to sort out the large paper board", says INGEDE president Dr. Erwin Krauthauf, "but nowadays, people dispose of large paper boards in smaller and smaller paper bins by tearing them into small shreds." The paper mills converting waste paper into newsprint or hygiene papers are faced with three major problems:

  • It is increasingly difficult to remove the printing ink from waste paper,
  • which also reduces the brightness of the raw material obtained from waste paper and
  • adhesive residues impede the manufacture of new paper from waste paper.

The reasons are manifold, even the paper itself or its conversion into printing products may interfere with the recycling process. As a consequence, publishers and the printing industry also had committed themselves to use printing inks and adhesives not impeding the utilisation of waste paper. Sometimes the wrong material is used for cost reasons, but also due to a lack of knowledge. This is the case, e.g., with regard to oils obtained from reproductive raw materials such as soy bean oil, which is repeatedly extolled as substitute for mineral oils in printing inks. However, these oils have one decisive disadvantage: when drying, their chemical structure changes. They interlace and bind printing ink particles almost inseparable with the paper fibres. With these inks, the recycling process cannot even achieve the brightness required for newsprint paper.

Many adhesives used today for, e.g., labels or self-adhesive envelopes, but also for magazine or catalogue spines, may hardly be removed during recycling. They deposit on the paper machines and cause holes in the paper or even tearing off of the paper web. Some alternatives suited for recycling such as, e. g., polyurethane adhesives, are available for a series of applications. However, companies frequently shy away from conversion or the related costs. The cost issue at least could be neutralized at the INGEDE meeting by the adhesive industry representative.

"We hope to have heightened somewhat the sensitivity of printing industry and publishing company representatives", adds Krauthauf. "This seminar, however, can only be the first step in a continuous dialogue." INGEDE is an association of leading European paper manufacturers aiming at promoting utilisation of wastepaper and improving the conditions for an extended use of wastepaper.

3 April 1998

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Last update: May 24, 1998