Leading UK print company YM Group decided it was time to get serious about plastic waste. Their decision to migrate from polywrap to paper envelopes turned out to be a smart move for reasons beyond eco-efficiency.
A growing body of evidence points to the devastating effects of plastic pollution. Only nine per cent of plastic waste is recycled, and most of it ends up in landfills or the environment. According to the World Economic Forum, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
Consumers are ready for change. A recent survey revealed that 82 per cent of Britons are actively striving to reduce the quantity of plastic waste they throw away. Amid a groundswell of public opinion against single-use plastics, producers cannot afford to ignore market-driven pressure for more sustainable packaging.
When it comes to plastic, one of the major problems facing the print industry is polywrap, a low-density polythene film that is used for delivering subscription magazines to readers. Millions of polywrapped items travel across the UK every week, generating a vast quantity of unrecycled waste.
A search for polywrap substitutes was initiated 18 months ago by leading print and marketing company YM Group. They approached long-term partner Stora Enso to help find a renewable, fibre-based alternative.
“We began looking for a compatible paper grade that would offer a viable, eco-friendly replacement for polywrap. YM Group have now embarked on a progressive transition to paper magazine wrapping,” states John Bradbourne, Sales Manager at Stora Enso Paper UK.
Ticking all the boxes
The chosen grade was BergaClassic Preprint 75 gsm, which offers a good balance of strength, postal weight, appealing appearance, and digital printability.
“Historically, plastic offers advantages in being lightweight, durable, water-resistant and cost-effective. In addition to meeting these requirements, YM Group needed a fit-for-purpose paper grade that would also look good,” describes Bradbourne.
BergaClassic Preprint ticked all the boxes as it can be printed both heat-set web offset,HSWO, and digitally, allowing fully personalised communication to promote better customer engagement. It can be used for wrapping multiple publications, and inserts can be added to the pack easily.
Being 100 per cent renewable, it fosters a green brand image and demonstrates YM Group’s commitment to fighting the scourge of plastic waste. Unlike polywrap, it is easily recyclable, supporting ISO14001.
Beyond the obvious ecological benefits, the paper wrapping delivered other benefits that were unforeseen when the project kicked off.
New marketing channel
As a fully recyclable packaging, the paper wrapping qualifies for a sustainability discount under UK Royal Mail’s environmental incentive scheme. Paper wraps are also easier to process by Royal Mail’s machines and are therefore eligible for cheaper Mailsort options.
As a further positive outcome, YM Group discovered that the paper envelope offers a profitable new platform for selling advertising space. The paper magazine wrap is fully customisable, offering virtually limitless bespoke design and printing opportunities.
“YM Group is able to print advertisements on the envelope, which has created new revenue streams for the company. This new marketing medium has been popular especially among companies with strong eco-credentials,” explains Bradbourne.
Ahead of the game
Bradbourne adds that YM Group’s new paper magazine wrapping has sparked wider interest among retailers and publishers in the UK subscription magazine sector.
With the UK government committed to fighting plastic waste and the European Union having approved a ban on certain single-use plastics to take effect in July 2021, YM Group’s decision to migrate from polywrap to paper is judiciously timed. Sooner or later, others will follow suit.
“Renewable, recyclable paper solutions are generating interest across the wider print community. Everyone is looking to migrate to paper wrapping. I foresee this becoming the predominant trend over the coming years,” Bradbourne concludes.