With the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) poised to present its annual sustainability awards this spring, it makes sense to take a look at some of the latest advances in sustainable packaging materials, especially those related to printing and labels.

Entries were due January 20 for the 2023 FTA Sustainability Excellence Awards. Those awards will be presented during FTA’s FORUM 2023, which will be held April 16-19 at the Hilton Columbus Downtown in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the award categories is “Innovations in sustainability,” which recognizes “New technology, formulations or techniques that have been developed to reduce the environmental impact of printing or improve workers’ health/safety.”

While it’s too early to say who will receive the prestigious award, it’s not too early to take a look at some of the most recent developments in sustainable packaging materials.

Videojet Launches a More Sustainable Ink

Videojet Technologies, a global leader in coding, marking and printing solutions with over 40 years of world-class inkjet fluid design experience, recently announced the launch of patent-pending continuous inkjet (CIJ) inks, V4264 and V464.

These non-MEK black inks demonstrate excellent adhesion to flexible food packaging and feature lower make-up consumption than comparable MEK-based inks. Ideal for printing codes and other information on plastics as well as on metal and glass substrates, the inks are engineered for use in Videojet CIJ printers.


Videojet CIJ code
Videojet’s new inks involve fewer cartridge changes.
Image Courtesy of Videojet Technologies


Safety and Sustainability Improvements

  • The V4264 and V464 inks meet tough industry standards including the strict Japan ISHL Class 2 Organic Solvent List and the Swiss Food Packaging Ordinance. The inks’ most notable safety and sustainability differentiators include:
  • Non-CMR (carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins) formulation without MEK, acetone or methanolLess make-up consumption than comparable MEK-based inks, resulting in fewer cartridge changes and reduced plastic and cardboard waste, lower VOC emissions and fewer printer touches

V4264 and V464 have been designated with the Videojet iQMarkTM. Inks in this category have not only met strict Videojet quality control specifications but have also been responsibly developed to help users meet their corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals and comply with stringent governmental and industry regulations worldwide.

Cromograf Wins Innovation Award

Over the last decade and a half, Uruguayan flexo packaging prepress trade shop Cromograf has reached beyond its Montevideo base to become a model for similar businesses in Latin America.

Cromograf’s embrace of sustainable production is a good example of the company’s pioneering spirit. While the thoughtful, planned use of resources may now be a mantra for all stakeholders in the packaging supply chain, Cromograf already embarked on the path in 2008.

Cromograf CEO Alejandra Acosta Salati can almost pinpoint the precise date.

“In a way, it started the day my father, Miguel Angel Acosta, saw the FLEXCEL NX System. He immediately recognized the potential of a technology that eliminated variables and brought new levels of consistency to the flexo process,” Acosta Salati said.

Cromograf installed the first FLEXCEL NX Mid system in Latin America in 2008, and a few months later began experimenting with Extended Color Gamut (ECG) printing, a process in which - 14 years later – Cromograf is recognized as the technology leader in Latin America and beyond.


Cromograf installed the first FLEXCEL NX Mid system in Latin America in 2008.
Image Courtesy of Miraclon


ECG is the foundation of Cromograf’s sustainability policy, explains Acosta Salati, because of the savings and efficiencies that are inherent in the basic idea of printing as much as possible using a fixed CMYK ink set.

“ECG uses fewer plates, fewer special inks, and cuts substrate wastage during job set-up. In addition — and this is very important for brand owners — the standard ink set means we can print multiple jobs simultaneously. This makes it easier to meet converters’ minimum order quantities despite ordering smaller volumes, which helps with test-marketing of new packaging ideas,” Acosta Salati said.

The company’s achievements have now been rewarded with a Gold Award in the Miraclon-sponsored Global Flexo Innovation Awards (GFIA), awarded for excellence in Print Production Workflow, Commitment to Sustainable Print, and Creative Use of Graphic Design.

Miraclon is the home of KODAK FLEXCEL Solutions, which have helped transform flexographic printing for more than a decade.

The GFIA judges were impressed by how Cromograf approaches each new packaging project in order to decide how best to apply ECG.

Dr. Chip Tonkin, from the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics, observed: “They do a lot of analysis on an incoming job to determine if it needs anything beyond CMYK, and they take extreme measures to do it within CMYK for the vast majority of jobs. For most colors, you can achieve it with CMYK, particularly when you optimize your CMYK.”

Toward Sustainable Packaging with oneBarrier

BOBST in October 2022 revealed a milestone in the journey toward truly sustainable packaging: oneBARRIER, a family of new alternative and sustainable solutions.

Chris Marshall, Area Sales Manager, BOBST, is slated to discuss the breakthrough at Converters Expo South in a Vendor Education Session titled, “The Journey Toward Sustainable Packaging with oneBARRIER, a Family of New Alternative and Sustainable Solutions.”


BOBST in October 2022 unveiled oneBARRIER as a family of new alternative and sustainable solutions.
Image Courtesy of BOBST


Converters Expo South will take place at the Charlotte (NC) Convention Center on February 22, 2023.

BOBST and its partners have revealed the next generation of oneBARRIER PrimeCycle — a polymer-based mono-material, which is recycle-ready while retaining excellent barrier qualities, making it a potentially groundbreaking development for sustainable packaging.

In addition, a second major oneBARRIER breakthrough is FibreCycle — a full paper, mono-material, recycle-ready solution created with BOBST partners Michelman and UPM, in response to increasing demand for more paper-based packaging options.

As the summary of Marshall’s scheduled education session notes: “Sustainable packaging has represented one of the significant challenges of the modern era and one of the most necessary. Join BOBST to learn how to prepare for a sustainable future.”