Green Printing and Plastic: No Longer Strange Bedfellows
Print markets for these materials include single- or limited-use packaging materials, gift and phone cards and plant tags, as well as billboard and banner applications. Examples of biodegradable and recyclable plastics engineered to look and perform like their traditional counterparts include:
Ultraflex BIOflexFL is a biodegradable banner/billboard material for UV, solvent or screen printing. When exposed to conditions in a landfill (darkness, high heat, moisture and lack of oxygen), it attracts microbes that break down the PVC within three to five years. Ultraflex PolyeLite is a 100 percent recyclable front-lit polyethylene substrate used primarily for UV-printed outdoor billboards and banners.
Pace BIOGRAPH.ics is made from an extruded agri-based plastic resin for greater impact strength, heat and humidity resistance, and compostability. The substrate is said to be highly ink receptive. Pace reports success with printing, diecutting, foiling, press polishing, embossing, heat bending and thermoforming applications. Pace ABSOLVE, available in degradable sheets and rolls, is engineered to look and process like standard polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene. It is also recyclable.
Spartech Rejuven8 is a sheet and roll stock material produced from corn-based NatureWorks PLA (polylactide). Rejuven8 is said to offer superior thermoforming, clarity and diecutting characteristics, in addition to heat sealing and printing capabilities. The company also offers the Rejuven8Plus family of PLA Alloys. And it positions its Valiant modified high-impact polystyrene sheet product as a cost-effective, performance-enhanced alternative to PVC.
GOEX CAROM 45r recycled sheet is extruded from PVC with only ink applied. Recycled CAROM 88 PVC is targeted specifically to card manufacturers whose waste stream contains plastic and ink, as well as magnetic stripe, signature panels, lamination film and other ornamentation.
“From a printer’s perspective, most biodegradable and recyclable products currently on the market are very print-friendly,” Kroening says, although he adds this caveat: While the controlled temperatures of UV printing generally do not present a problem, certain finishing processes may selectively strain these substrates’ heat- and tear-resistance.