Market pressure and foreign regulations are driving China toward more eco-friendly printing practices, announced consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
Though regulations against petroleum-based inks on food packaging are non-compulsory in China, they are mandatory in the western market China sells to. These regulations and the appeal of “Green Packaging” are pushing the Chinese ink industry forward.
Printing ink is one of the most polluting materials used in packaging, but cash-strapped Chinese companies don’t have budgets for R&D, according to the firm. So it is regulations prohibiting aromatic and solvent-based inks, like EU’s REACH, that are accelerating the transition to greener inks, and will eventually eliminate ink-makers who do not comply, the firm predicts.
Water-based ink is the only qualified ink for food and pharmaceutical packaging in the west, the firm says, and with recent food safety scares the Chinese government is stepping up oversight on the chemicals used in foods and food packaging. Big events like the 2010 Shanghai World Expo will continue to keep focus on Chinese ink, an industry that is predicted to grow at 10% annually over the next several years. Additionally, China will soon be able to produce soy and vegetable-based inks, which it now imports, and this will diversify the eco-friendly Chinese ink market.