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Managing Printing Ink Waste in South Africa: Packaging printing looks to be an excellent opportunity for ink manufacturers.

South Africa's printing industry has continued to post positive performance despite the country's recent economic constraints, triggering an increased uptake of printing inks alongside growing concerns on how best to sustainably manage associated waste at the manufacture, packaging, use and disposal levels.

Analysts estimated South Africa's printing inks market at $85.89 million in 2015 and anticipate a steady growth to $155.13 million by 2024, driven largely by the positive performance of key consuming sectors such as packaging, publication and commercial printing, metal cans and textiles, according to various market reports focusing on South Africa.

The printing inks market is dominated by manufacturers/suppliers such as New Africa Inks, GL Specialized Inks, Constantia Printing Inks, Hi-Tech Inks, Millian Inks, Select Inks, Flint Group South Africa, NuTec Digital Ink and Hostmann-Steinberg South Africa.

Constantia Printing Inks, one of the largest private-owned ink company in the country and which manufactures a wide range of solvent-based inks for both flexographic and gravure applications, says Africa is one of the regions where the packaging industry is expected to experience some growth, although much slower than in other emerging markets such as China and India.

Constantia projects growth of Africa's printing industry at 4%6% in 2017, with consumption in South Africa likely to be dictated by the country's policy interventions to what the company sees as "softer industrial production, private consumption and exports" in addition to the significant depreciation of the local currency and increasing inflation, especially for 2016, and whose effects could probably be felt in the wider manufacturing sector.

Constantia predicted a 1.4% growth for South Africa's packaging industry for 2017.

But the growth of the printing inks market segments of screen, flexography, gravure, offset and specialty printing comes with the burden of managing waste that is generated at the formulation of the ink production raw materials, the manufacture of the ink itself, its use and sustainable disposal.

Printing ink's ingredients of pigments, vehicles and additives could contain various amounts of heavy metals. The other concern is the outcome of the creation of film and the cleaning of press equipment activities that have been linked to generation of alkaline and acidic waste within the printing industry.

South Africa, like many other countries, subscribes to the international waste management standards, especially the European Union regulations on the management of the heavy metals across the manufacturing or processing industries.

The regulations propose limiting the weight of these heavy metals to 100 ppm, although their levels in ink originating from certified manufacturers in South Africa could be much lower than the recommended rate.

Leading printing ink manufacturers have international connections through their parent companies and focus on the production of eco-friendly products with limited environmental damage both during their use and disposal.

Flint Group, which entered into a joint venture with Continental Printing Inks & Eagle Ink Systems in South Africa, said in previous reports it will "continually look to reduce the impact on the environment, now and for future generations."

Elsewhere, New Africa Inks (Pty) Ltd's website says the company's Eco-solvent inks "are more affordable than other ink types on the (South African) market."

"These inks produce no harmful fumes or vapors which means it is environmentally friendly and offers an affordable printing option for companies looking to 'go green,'" it says.

The company, which has partnerships with other international ink manufacturers in the US and UK, says printing companies using its Eco-solvent inks "will not require a solvent ventilation system, thus saving them money."

It adds that the inks "are available in eco cartridges which are made from a recycled plastic which is completely reusable."

Both for printing ink manufacturers and consumers in South Africa, the regulatory agencies rely on the country's National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) to regulate both contaminated and uncontaminated ink products. The NWMS is a legislative requirement of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008, popularly called the "Waste Act," for the regulation of the management of waste including that generated by the wider printing industry.

This Waste Act is reviewed after every five years by the minister for environmental affairs to ensure it remains relevant and keeps pace with the emerging waste management trends not only in South Africa but also globally as the country is a signatory to various international waste elimination treaties.

Since 2010, the country has gone through many changes in its waste management strategy, which affects South Africa's environmental and waste legislation such as the National Pricing Strategy for Waste Management, 2016.

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs, the strategy "gives effect to the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility and contains provisions for waste management charges to finance the re-use, recycling, and/or recovery of waste."

The charges were also meant to support the establishment of a Waste Management Bureau, to facilitate the implementation of industry waste management plans and to promote the minimization, reuse, recovery and recycling of waste according to the Department of Environment Affairs.

Another change that is of interest to South Africa's printing industry is the National Waste Information Regulations, 2012 (GN No. R.625) that is meant to "regulate the collection of data and information to fulfill the objectives of the national waste information system."

Further, the Department of Environmental Affairs has over the last eight years amended in 2013 the list of activities that have, or are likely to have, a "detrimental effect on the country's environment by increasing the thresholds that trigger the requirement for a waste management licence and by making provisions for the publication of norms and standards for certain activities."

The waste management regulations and previous amendments to their implementation procedures means South Africa's printing ink manufacturers have to continue evaluating all that which makes up their final product, such as the primers, sealers, overprint varnishes and washing materials, and from such an evaluation determine the kind of substances, compounds, properties and characteristics that could be ingrained in whatever waste generated in the printing ink's long journey from cradle to grave.

Increasing international environmental safety concerns is likely to exert pressure on South Africa's ink makers and target consumers to include in sustainability programs activities that identify and address the challenge of waste streams, excess or unsold inks, cleaning solvents and wipes at various levels of the supply chain.
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Title Annotation:africa report
Author:Oirere, Shem
Publication:Ink World
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Nov 1, 2018
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