By Cara Bommarito, sustainability manager, RadTech
Sustainability is about being efficient and understanding the tradeoffs of innovation. RadTech’s membership is a unique representation of the entire supply chain: resin suppliers, end users and all the critical industries in between. Having many different industry perspectives is beneficial to gathering a holistic view of sustainability. It also informs our organization of upcoming and ongoing challenges in the sustainability world. Sustainability is fast moving and dynamic, and it is important companies stay on the forefront of global environmental concerns. Not only is RadTech’s membership fortunate to be aware of the vast array of issues facing the sustainability world, RadTech also is able to see each industries adaptations to create impressive solutions to sustainability problems.
The printers that utilize UV/EB/LED technology are at intersection of almost all the tiers of the supply chain. Putting it simply, printers interact with coatings, use lamps and printing presses and, finally, create the end use application with energy-curable technology. RadTech’s Sustainability Committee’s plastic recyclability study (done as a capstone project through the University of Massachusetts-Lowell) required sample material to be created so the students could perform testing. For this, the committee reached out to Fortis Solutions Group. Fortis utilizes energy-curable technology in an array of its processes and printed labels with UV-cured inks for the recyclability study. When talking with Tyler Matzinger, research and development manager at the West Chester location, I learned Fortis is conducting exciting work in sustainability and enlisting energy-curable technology as part of the solution.
Fortis is a printing group with 21 locations throughout the United States and over 1,400 employees. Started by John Wynne in 2010 following a career in finance, Fortis was formerly known as labels unlimited, but rebranded in 2014 to become Fortis Solutions Group.
While Fortis is a large printing group, the company has empowered individual sites to make decisions on a local level. From a sustainability mindset, this important because each printing site can tackle its unique sustainability challenges in a custom way, rather than applying a broad-stroke solution. Fortis focuses on acquisitions of sites with unique capabilities and end-users, focusing on five core segments: labels, shrink sleeves, flexible packaging, folding carton and label applicators. With this many applications, Fortis can see a variety of end-use applications and put the company’s best foot forward to make them more sustainable.
One project Fortis has worked on that is particularly intriguing for sustainability is the wash-off label. According to a post on the Fortis website1, wash-off labels are great because “While standard pressure-sensitive labels can contaminate the PET recyclability stream with adhesives and inks, Fortis Solutions Group’s RENEW™ pressure-sensitive labels separate cleanly during the water bath stage at the recycler by using an innovative water-based adhesive that’s compliant with the Association of Plastic Recyclers’ (APR) highest standards.” This allows recyclers to collect more quality recycled materials, making it more desirable for creating new products. The labels themselves can be created with a 90% post-consumer recycled content PET liner, according to Fortis. These labels are printed with UV inks as well, which allow for processing without inks bleeding into the wash stream.
One more interesting point found in the Fortis article is that research from Nielsen suggests a growing number of shoppers – 38%, as of 2017 – are willing to pay more for products that come in sustainable packages. Fortis addresses this by using post-consumer materials in flexible packaging, as well as renewable water-based inks and solvent-free adhesives in its sustainable packaging. Additionally, the company uses an energy-curable process that doesn’t create greenhouse gas emissions, which aids in the overall sustainability goals. Fortis is a shining example of a printer that takes sustainability seriously and is utilizing energy-curable technology as a vital solution for executing its goals.
Want to learn more about Fortis printing solutions? Check out the company’s blog and website at www.fortissolutionsgroup.com/blog/.