Green issues are more crucial than ever for the printing industry, with many paper manufacturers striving to achieve sustainable certification and do their bit for the environment. So what can we expect of the year ahead?

Sue Griffin Marketing Communications Manager, Sappi Fine Paper Europe

Green issues are more crucial than ever for the printing industry, with many paper manufacturers striving to achieve sustainable certification and do their bit for the environment. So what can we expect of the year ahead?

We’re used to seeing a plethora of advertising in an Olympic year, but how much will we remember of the sponsors after the closing ceremony? There is more e-communication flying about, but also great design work for clients who understand they need a full package to generate lasting brand loyalty. So we’ll see more, rather than less, print communication during 2008.

We’ll see better-quality papers for lasting messages, more personalisation, more consistent colour management and a proactive approach in sourcing products, as private consumers and as partners in the graphical chain. Design is about changing future perceptions and we’ll see the collective creative response to the environmental threats we face long after Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize is just a distant memory.

These interests will be reflected in the latest products and technology displayed at Drupa 2008, the leading global exhibition of print and paper. From 29 May to 11 June in Düsseldorf, Germany, Sappi will be part of PrintCity’s Connection of Competence, an alliance of market-leading global suppliers to the graphics industry.

Reaching the consumer
On show, we’ll see examples of interconnectivity points between new and traditional media as mobile, Web-based and print media converge. Print is a natural access point for marketers’ interest in engaging consumers in a lasting, interactive, one-to-one relationship. Internet Integration in the Media Mix, the most recent publication in Sappi’s Life with Print programme, shows that combining print and on-line increases intention to purchase by as much as 360 per cent.

The European print chain’s recent Print Sells campaign also provides case studies demonstrating the value of print in building effective brand communications. The campaign, targeting 450 000 sales, marketing, advertising and communications managers in 13 countries in western Europe, will undoubtedly further stimulate coated paper use.

New techniques
With the convergence of new and traditional media, accuracy and consistency of print reproduction grow in importance in the creation of memorable branding vehicles. Consumers tend to skip pictures and graphs in favour of spending time on the text content of Web pages. Printed materials put the focus back on images and our primary visual system charges images with desire.

Newer reproductive screening techniques will facilitate the move towards exact photographic reproduction, combining with the tactile senses to create tangible and emotional responses. This means higher-quality coated paper specification, allowing absolute colour fidelity so consumers can select ‘real’ items. High-value decisions continue to demand time and attention – varnishing and finishing techniques can really set a brand apart and help address counterfeiting issues. Global brands – especially those in the luxury market – require reproduction consistency across the world. Consistent paper substrates like Magno help to meet this need.

New papers, such as Sappi’s Tempo, will also reduce the need for protective coatings. The benefits will not only be visual – smoother touch and the natural feel of unvarnished paper will further enhance the brand experience.

Environmental impact
UK designers know that the materials they use reflect a client’s desired environmental positioning. Particularly in the fields of international finance, energy and consumer goods, they play a crucial role in advising their clients how to address these sensitivities and channel consumers’ concerns into action.

Many UK printers, publishers and brand-owners are fully aware that schemes such as the Forestry Stewardship Council and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification chain-of-custody certification can help the consumer identify sustainably sourced print products. Sappi was the first paper company to achieve group chain-of-custody certification for its European operations under both schemes and employs efficient combined heat and power technology for energy generation, with increasing use of recycled biofuels.

The paper industry is a bio-energy driver in Europe. At a printer level, we are likely to see solvent emission reductions, more soy inks and aqueous varnishes being offered.

Demand for recycled papers will continue to grow in the UK. Royal Web Recycled Silk, a quality coated publications paper containing 50 per cent post-consumer waste, has just been launched. Manufactured in the UK from 100 per cent FSC-sourced pulp, it has one of the smallest carbon footprints around. Sappi’s Lustro Offset Environmental grade was used for the Live Earth concert materials in North America. Virgin fibre papers will make an important contribution to the recovered paper chain by ensuring the sustainability of the recycling process.

There is a growing realisation that even e-communication leaves footprints, from initial hardware manufacture, operational energy use to the very real problem of disposal. Unfortunately, materials going into mobile technology cannot just be grown anew. We will need to develop a more sophisticated understanding of material life cycles and sustainability. This is a challenge that will last far beyond 2008, and one to which we have to rise.

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