We recently had the privilege to speak at the Hong Kong Printers’ Federation Summit on the benefits of standards. One of the discussion points was the need for more environmental innovation within printing companies. A member of the audience gave us a great example of just the sorts of things that printers can do to improve print media’s environmental impact.
Alex Yan of the Wing King Tong Printing Group one of Hong Kong’s best known and well establishing printers, has developed the AiryPack, a new form of environmentally friendly packaging. It is environmentally sustainable, cost effective and based on recycled packaging materials. Cardboard boxes generally comprise dense board overlaid with some sort of protective layer, usually glued on. AiryPack, for which Alex has a patent pending, has a stiff outer layer that uses clever folding and a minimal amount of glue to stick it to a special hollow material that is the body of the box. Because it uses less material a box’s weight using AiryPack, compared to conventional packaging, can be reduced by over 50%. This is a substantial reduction in resource requirement and the package can be recycled rather than being sent to landfill.
This new lightweight material is apparently extremely simple to produce and manipulate, and to return to the recycling stream. Using less glue and board has obvious environmental benefits, but AiryPack is also very lightweight so its less costly for air transportation.
Alex Yan claims that AiryPack is a cradle-to-cradle system in that it produces zero waste, zero emissions and zero ecological footprint. The technology has been awarded the Hong Kong Green Label Scheme certificate. Wing King Tong is working on certifications from other ecolabelling schemes and with other organisations in order to gain a higher profile for its technology. There are many ecolabelling schemes around the world, some more robust than others, however AiryPack meets the demands of the more rigorous ones. This includes being recyclable once the package reaches end of life, the use of recycled raw materials, water soluble glue, an accountable carbon footprint (for instance using ISO 16759), and conformance with local environmental regulations.
Wing King Tong has set up a special division to develop and promote AiryPack, which can be used to produce more than just packaging. Team AiryPack is working on concept products such as calendars based on AiryPack materials that can be sold direct to consumers. Alex Yan is looking for partners to cobrand his invention or to promote it, so if this is of interest do contact him via: www.airypack.com