It looks like you cannt recycle some digitally printed paper labels – INGEDE document first case study of ‘HP’ type liquid toner digital printed paper fouling up paper recycling plants


This new article in INGEDE news documents how contamination of a major EU paper recycling plant by liquid toner printed papers cuased a major quality reject of 140 tonnes of paper!

INGEDE is the trade association of the European Deinking Industry.  Sounds dull?  Well lets put it in perspective – if you want paper recycling on an industrial scale, someone has to do it and its these chaps – if you cannt remove the ink off the paper then the paper cannt be recycled for quality uses, and thats just not good in an industrial society looking to act in a more sustainable fashion that responsible customers all want to see.

This association represents about 40 paper recycling plants across the EU and in their own words state their aims as follows:

“Today recovered paper is recycled to produce cardboard, packaging paper, office papers, newsprint and hygiene paper. In the future more recovered paper can and should be recycled, also for higher quality graphic papers recovered paper can be used as a resource. In order to keep these products light, to avoid them getting darker even going through multiple recycling, the ink has to be removed: the recovered paper goes through the deinking process. This process should harm the environment as little as possible, and it should also lead to a high quality product. To achieve these goals, everybody involved in these steps has to cooperate.  INGEDE wants to bring everybody involved together to ensure and improve the recyclability of paper products. The better the deinking process will be developed, the bigger the contribution of paper manufacturers is towards avoiding waste and protecting the environment.”

In their October 2010 newsletter they describe a case study of how ‘liquid toner’ digital printing inks caused a serious quality problem at one of their members advanced paper recycling plants this August, causing the scrapping of 140 tonnes of paper. This is really bad news for certain sections of the digital printing community (which Mercian Labels belong too), as if you use liquid toner based digital label printing technology such as any HP digital label press or indeed from the look of it any inkjet press, then it has to be recognised that your products cannt be recycled using current mass deinking technology, and may need segregating for landfill or other non recyclable waste routes.

At Mercian Labels we’ve been aware of this issue for some time, and have stuck with the Xeikon dry toner based system as it has very strong environmental credentials.  You can see a video interview about this issue from DRUPA here and read INDEGE’s position on HP digital print technology here.

The long and short of it is that this report of a fouled up deinking mill suggests that if you want your digital label printing supplier to use a sustainable, green and environmentally process, specify that they must use a Xeikon or other solvent free  dry toner technology, not any liquid toner printing methods such as those made by HP digital label printing processes.  All digital printing processes are not the same, and the gap between the good, the bad, and the ugly just got bigger.


I am the MD of a UK label printing company (Mercian Labels), we are are currently a Xeikon user, and these views are from the perspective of a label printer with interests in sustainable digital label printing.