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Sustainable Graphics: 2023 and Beyond

Our eco stats,
from 2020 to today.

sqmtr of native
woodland planted


kg of carbon

The Sustainable Graphics Landscape

Sustainability is an important consideration for businesses across all industries, yet somehow we’re still nowhere near the ceiling of what’s possible with sustainable graphics. Environmentally conscious consumers are encouraging brands to become more experimental with sustainable display solutions, driving design agencies to turn to environmentally conscious graphics makers to match evolving demands.

We all know that consumers are looking to minimise their environmental impact on the planet, but it’s easy to put that thought on autopilot without considering the roadmap of how, as an industry, we can meet these consumer demands. In print and graphics, it’s easy to assume that by the nature of creating materials, it’s impossible to have a net positive environmental impact. But there are some leaders in our space when it comes to adopting sustainable innovation, and we’ve put together some thoughts and predictions for how this will shape graphics in 2023.

What Green Steps Is the Industry Taking?

One of the more widely adopted trends in the industry is the use of sustainable materials, such as FSC certified paper stock, which is sourced from responsibly managed forests, and recycled card stocks, which are made from post-consumer waste and are designed to be durable and long-lasting. These sustainable graphics help offset the environmental impact of the paper production process and ensure longevity of products.

Another trend in the industry is the shift away from traditional plastic-containing materials, which is a major contributor to ocean pollution and is not biodegradable. To address this problem, we aim to offer plastic-free printing solutions during the design phase, such as recyclable metal and card. These materials are not only better for the environment, but also offer cost-effective and durable alternatives that elevate finished displays.

Due to these efforts, we’ve been awarded for our sustainable display solutions, and we’re proud to be leading the way in sustainable printing. By partnering with us for graphics solutions, our customers are confident they are supporting an environmentally responsible printing business, committed to innovation and progress.

It’s important to note that sustainability is not just a trend, it’s a necessity. As more and more companies adopt sustainable graphics, it’s becoming the norm, not the exception. Sustainability is no longer just a “nice to have”, it’s a “must have” for any business looking to succeed in 2023 and beyond.

We’ve put together a rundown on our Top 10 up and coming areas of sustainability innovation in the graphics industry. Read through at your leisure, or send us a message, and we’ll let you know all about it.

1. Digital Printing

Digital printing isn’t anything new to the industry – in fact, we’ve been doing it for yonks – but the constant innovation in the space is invariably pushing the discipline forward. In 2023, with or without the existing energy crisis, we expect companies to invest further in low-energy printing methods. And further embrace the benefits of automation.

2. Process Automation

Over the next year, we’re sinking significant investment in better automation for our production and sales process. This means we’re less dependent on human touch points for projects that can be a little more hands-off, and more available for highly involved campaigns that need the time and patience of real people. This means that project delivery becomes faster and more efficient across the board.

We expect this to lead to a net decrease in wastage due to better print efficiency, allowing us to streamline our production process. Eventually, we can see this helping us reduce timescales from days to hours, enabling a leaner and greener overall operation.

From an interview with Printweek, Kevin O’Donnell (Head of Marketing, Xerox) also predicts that AI and automation will help printers to deliver an overall more sustainable solution for customers. And it looks like we’re reading from the very same crystal ball. 

3. Bioplastics

Bioplastics are made from renewable resources such as corn starch, sugarcane, or vegetable oil instead of fossil fuels, making them more sustainable than traditional plastics. They are also biodegradable and compostable, which reduces the environmental impact of plastic waste and helps us move towards the goal of plastic-free printing.

Researchers from the University of Verona argue that consumer repurchase of bioplastics is more product performance based than anything else. So consumers may have bought into the ideology of bioplastics, and immediately switched back to fossil fuel based products based on performance.

But over the last few years, huge scientific leaps in this area are the reason we believe 2023 is the year that we see mainstream adoption across all production industries. Drop us a line if you’d like to chat about embedding eco-alternatives into your campaigns. 

4. Eco-Friendly Inks

Traditional inks are made from petroleum-based products, but new eco-friendly inks are being developed at a fantastic rate. Made from vegetable products, algae, or UV cured; the options are constantly expanding. And next to the bioplastics, it sounds like we’re not far off being able to turn your whole roast dinner into a graphics project (minus the chicken and gravy)

5. Waterless Printing

This is an innovative sustainability solution used to reduce waste and pollutants from lithographic printing. And that’s because one of the overlooked inefficiencies of lithography is paper wastage, caused by trial and error in achieving the perfect water/ink balance for production.

Water-saving printing presses use a printing plate coated in silicone rubber, and usually have alternate means of temperature control.

6. Recycled Content

We’re increasingly receiving requests from agencies to incorporate more recycled and recyclable materials in products and displays. This not only reduces the environmental impact of producing new products, but also ultimately helps brands appeal more to the modern environmentally conscious consumer. 

7. Carbon Offsetting

Carbon offsetting is a way for companies to offset their greenhouse gas emissions by investing in projects that reduce carbon emissions. This can include things like reforestation or renewable energy projects.

We’ve invested in carbon capture programs, such as Premier Paper’s initiative to plant new native woodland in the UK proportional to sales of FSC certified paper stocks, in alliance with the Woodland Trust. 

8. Energy Efficiency

Many companies in the print and graphics industry are investing in energy-efficient technologies, such as LED lighting and energy-efficient equipment, to reduce their energy consumption and promoting low-carbon printing

Because it’s not just the printing itself that takes up energy, but the running of the facility itself. Over the last few years we’ve adopted a more remote-flexible policy for staff, meaning our office now sees more ‘lights-off’ hours per day

9. Green Certification

Companies in the print and graphics industry are taking on green printing certifications to demonstrate sustainable accountability. These certifications can include things like FSC, Rainforest Alliance, Woodland Trust, and Green Seal.

10. Sustainable Packaging

Companies are increasingly looking for sustainable packaging solutions, such as compostable and biodegradable materials, to reduce the environmental impact of their products. This can include things like paper-based packaging, eco-friendly mailing envelopes, and more. Recently, we’ve even read about packaging being made from seaweed!

It’s worth noting that the field of sustainability is constantly evolving, so the trends mentioned above may change over time. But by incorporating these sustainable practices and technology, companies in the print and graphics industry can make a positive impact on the environment and also appeal to the growing number of environmentally-conscious consumers.

Ultimately, we don’t live in an ideal world. But, we’re pushing closer and closer every day. Which is why here at Swytch, you can trust that we’re keeping a watchful eye on the latest innovations in sustainability.

Interested in learning more about sustainable graphics?

Whether you have a project in mind, or just want to explore opportunities, we’d love to chat about it.