drupa 2008 has been called the “Inkjet Drupa” with many vendors demonstrating new Inkjet presses. The popularity for Inkjet-based printing systems comes from its substrate flexibility and speed that can’t currently be matched by toner-based counterparts. But at what cost do these new systems come? In the drupa halls and on industry Websites there has been a lot of discussion of the recyclability of papers that have been printed with inkjet.
It is “a lot easier to recycle paper” – yes, if it has been printed with offset or gravure or dry toner. But not if it has been printed with current inkjet. This is the discrepancy at this year’s drupa: Green and inkjet are the main topics, but they do not match. Waterbased does not necessarily mean environmentally friendly. Because many waterbased inks cannot be recycled.
This is especially true for inkjet inks, no matter whether they are dyes or toners. They are not only unrecyclable for new graphic paper – even in small amounts, inkjet printed papers can spoil a load of recovered paper dedicated to be recycled for new newsprint or office papers. The current inkjet inks dissolve in the process water and dye it like a red sock (or here black sock) in the white wash. There it is the underwear that turns pink, here the fibers that turn so dark that the paper screened out of this broth will not meet any brightness specification any more.
Noel Ward of WhatTheyThink.com, responding to comments regarding to comments on inkjet recyclability states:
I keep hearing about the poor recyclability of IJ and no one except paper companies really want to talk about it. I’m in the process of digging into this to find out more of the dirty details, and I have also had the experience that when mentioning recycling to IJ engine vendors they redirect the topic. What I know so far is that IJ papers can be recycled, but not to produce most of us would call good quality printing papers. That may be okay for now, but not when thousands of miles of continuous feed IJ paper is being streamed off these new presses.
After the drupa dust settles, we will hopefully hear more about the recyclability of inkjet printed paper from the vendors that are bringing this technology to market.