Digitally printed with water-based ink. Rich blacks create a vivid contrast, ideal for minimalistic design.
Certified Wood definition
There are many different types of certification for wood products. These certifications vary depending on where the wood is grown and where it’s processed, and whether the trees are used for paper pulp or wood products. Certifications are also indicative of whether or not the forests are managed in a sustainable way, with both the environment, native cultures and the local community in mind.
The most common certification is from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Packhelp supports and recommends using FSC-certified materials where possible.
The FSC label comes with three levels of certification:
FSC 100% - This level indicates that all of the pulp used in this material came from FSC certified forests.
FSC Mix - This tier indicates that the pulp is a mixture of two or more type of pulp, limited to FSC certified forests, recycled pulp, controlled wood, or wood from ethical sources that don’t meet the complete FSC certification.
FSC Recycled - This level indicates that the material is made from reclaimed material and not virgin pulp.
Note: FSC Mix-grade pulp may contain a mixture of FSC virgin pulp, and FSC virgin pulp that’s an offcut that’s been recycled and not yet been turned into a final product.
Other notable bodies and certifications include the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI).
The process of biodegradation under aerobic conditions within a time frame of 6-12 weeks is called composting. When placed in an appropriate environment or facility, compostable products break plastic polymers down into CO2 all other ingredients into biomass or soil. This ‘appropriate environment’ consists of an ambient temperature between 50-70°C, the correct humidity, pressure, and appropriate numbers and types of microbes.
A consumer can either use home or industrial compost:
Home compost: A sealed unit that creates the previously mentioned environment, often using food scraps, plant matter and worms.
Industrial compost: An industrial facility, often run by the city or local government, that takes and processes industrially approved material for large-scale composting. Industrial facilities create hotter environments with higher pressure than home composting.
The end product is soil or biomass that adds organic, natural and non-toxic nutrients to the soil.
The U.S. standard for testing industrial compostability is ASTM D6400 and the EU standard for testing industrial compostability is EN 13432.
Home compostability certifications are very new to the market. Belgian organisation TUV has created a certification for home compostability, OK compost HOME but it is yet to be widely adopted.
Inks & Definition
Inks are used to print images onto packaging using either the flexographic, lithographic or offset printing methods
All types of printing inks are made of pigment of colour, a binder (the base) to adhere the pigment to the printing surface and a solvent to spread the ink over the desired area. Some additives are also added to give the ink durability.
In recent years, different types of oils (other than petroleum) have been tested as ink bases. Sunflower, soy, linseed, safflower and canola, just to name a few. It’s worth noting that these raw materials need to pass through a range of labour and carbon-intense processes to become usable.
During the printing process, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are released by solvents, imposing a potential health risk.
Packhelp defines vegan products are products that have no materials derived from animals or animal products. The production processes of these materials also use no animal products.
Vegan products may also contain petroleum-based materials that take hundreds of thousands of years to decompose. Vegan certification for corrugated cardboard is also expensive and rarely if ever, obtained.
Why you should use vegan packaging products
A brand may decide to opt for vegan materials if veganism is a core value to them. Vegan products that don’t contain petroleum-based product are more likely to be biodegradable, recyclable and/or compostable.
Why you shouldn’t use vegan products
Non-vegan products used in the packaging industry are usually limited to hides, blood and sinew. All these materials are usually byproducts of the meat industry that would otherwise be thrown away.
Sourcing vegan materials such as rubber trees and oils from plant crops is very labour and energy-intensive. This may result in a larger expenditure of fossil fuel compared to using animal byproduct which is readily available. Packaging that is vegan may also contain synthetic or petroleum-based materials, meaning it can’t decompose or be composted or recycled easily.
This is a great example of two environmentally friendly elements conflicting with each other and possibly doing more harm than good. This should be taken into account when considering the importance of carbon emissions vs veganism.
Water-based Ink definition
Inks are used during the printing process to transfer your image onto the material using flexographic, lithographic, offset or digital methods.
All printing inks contain a pigment of colour, a binder (also called the base) which sticks the pigment to the surface, and a solvent to spread the ink over the desired area evenly. Additives are sometimes added to increase the ink’s durability.
Water-based inks have binder and solvents that are water-based.
Why you should use water-based inks
Water-based inks are used when printing directly onto the cardboard surface, rather than a separate piece of material that’s then laminated onto the cardboard. Water-based inks are transparent in touch - that is to say, the ink film cannot be felt, but rather deeply into the cardboard underneath.
Water-based inks emit no volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) during the printing or drying process and therefore are safe to both workers and the surrounding atmosphere.
As there are no chemical additives, water-based inks are cheap and easy to produce. Water-based inks don’t require a heater to set, cure and dry, as they to do so at room temperature (approximately 18 degrees C /64.6F).
Wastage is nothing more than dirty (non-contaminated) water that is fit to be released into the sewer for standard water-treatment processing. Some printing facilities also have in-house water treatment facilities to clear and reuse the water used in water-based inks.
Why you shouldn’t use water-based inks
While water-based inks do cure naturally, they take longer to do so. This increases the turn-around time for an order, and depending on the facility, also holds up other orders.
While water-based inks do create water waste that can be treaded in council facilities, they do create wastewater, and a significant amount more than petroleum and solvent-based inks.