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HOW CAN THE PRINTING INDUSTRY PARTICIPATE IN THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY REVOLUTION?

Monday, 05 January 2015 | By Gerry Mulvaney

 

By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

January’s Economic Forum in Davos, where the world’s leaders from government, economics and business gather in Switzerland to share ideas and concerns, will apparently feature several sessions on what some are calling the next industrial revolution – the circular economy.

We are now starting to see evidence of a shared economy forming – where the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Hailo bring together people with assets they want to share with people who want to use the asset for a short time, by the use of Internet based software. This has great potential for a whole range of assets. For example, why buy a lawn mower or a garden barbeque, when you are only going to use them a few times a year? We can expect to see more apps and sites developing for just this purpose. But there is also another version of this sharing that is starting to take hold in more manufacturing industries and this is what will get the delegates both excited and concerned in Davos.

Despite the current falling price of oil, it is clear that the Earth’s resources are finite. In the race to provide the rest of the emerging markets growing middle classes the sort of lifestyles that we enjoy in the West, we will have to find a way to avoid them being depleted to a point of extinction.

We cannot continue with the current model of mining, manufacturing, consuming and disposing without regard to the finite amount of coal, ore, gold and other elements used in modern industrial processes and this is where the new circular economy finds a place.

The Circular Economy illustration

The Circular Economy – where what goes around comes around, full circle

We are going to have to find ways to reuse the various components used in modern technology so that, at the end of their useable life, they can be re-engineered into the next version of the technology. Why buy household appliances like fridges, washing machines and televisions, consigning them to landfill when we purchase the latest model? If manufacturers for example could rent us the appliance and take it back for recycling and re-manufacturing, they could make huge savings in their raw material costs. When put like that, it makes a lot of sense.

Circular Economy Strategies Make Good Sense for the Printing Industry

So could we see it happen in print? I am not suggesting that an old Heidelberg platen could be recycled into the latest Landa S10 Nanographic Printing® Press. But in future we could well see our industry manufacturers renting or leasing printing equipment and bringing it back so that it can be recycled and remanufactured. Xerox already does a version of this at a factory in Ireland I visited a few years ago and the savings are shared in part with their customers.

It will need a big change in strategy for our press and finishing manufacturers to follow suit, but the textbook example of Kodak in our industry might serve as a valuable warning. In trying to protect their lucrative film business, they chose to mothball their discovery of digital photography. And the result of their nearsighted “we only do it this way” policy is now a well-known part of history.


Image source: https://leadersinstituteofsa.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/circular-economy-faith-coleman1.png

Landa S10 - Printing Press