What Can Printers Do to Recycle Waste?

I recently came across this interesting article by Rachel England of Print Week and it made me think of our own processes here at Stonebridges.  In the article Rachel states that the UK is the world’s fifth largest manufacturer of printed products, consequently  waste produced by the print industry is vast. However, it has only been over the last decade or so that the majority of this waste has been recycled.  I found this to be quite surprising as we have been recycling our paper waste for over 30 years and our chemical and ink waste for 25 years, here at Stonebridges Printers Ltd.


Paper is by far the easiest waste to deal with. It is taken to a recycling facility, washed, pulped and remade into new paper in a range of qualities. Previously, card and paper grades had to be carefully sorted and separated to ensure optimal recyclability, however due to the development of new  technologies it is now feasible for recycling mills to use a mix of paper types, although some grades such as best white, remain a high value material. This means that many waste management companies choose to deal with this separately.


Recycling wooden pallets is also simple. After shredding, they are either remanufactured into chip and fibreboard or used for animal bedding products. It can also be used for footpath material or as biomass, which is a source of renewable energy.


“Aluminium plate recycling is similarly straightforward, and particularly vital, as it’s a material that can be recycled continuously without losing its useful properties. After cleansing, it’s put through a melting process and turned into blocks (ingots), which are ready to be repurposed, often by the motor industry or by other plate manufacturers”


Inks and solvents can be recycled by means of an ink recovery process which involves filtering and reconditioning, this produces high quality black inks. Another option is to use a solidification treatment of lime or fly ash, which turns the liquid into ‘cakes’ that can then be used in energy-from-waste facilities.


With the issue of waste and recycling increasingly taking centre stage for all industries, it is important for printers to have the right support and the right processes in place to review waste contracts regularly, this is something  we already do and have done for many years here at Stonebridges Printers Ltd.  Having read Rachel’s article I will be actively looking into further areas of our business  where we can all benefit from recycling.

No Comments

Leave a Comment: