“We need to increase awareness - that's why we have established PRETHINK INK”
Tell us the story of the PRETHINK INK network so far.
We considered rolling out this approach further: by taking it to Interpack, one of Europe’s largest packaging exhibitions, and by producing a series of videos. Then, in the middle of all of this, the coronavirus reared its head. We had to devise a new way to use our ideas in a remote, virtual setting. That is how we came up with the concept of the PRETHINK INK network: so we could continue to share knowledge and raise awareness of water-based inks for flexible packaging across the entire industry.
Today we are finally at a point where we can say that the quality of a water-based ink is at the same level as a solvent-based ink, offering great printability and resolubility properties. Thanks to the rise of ‘hybrid’ machines, printers can use them a lot more easily too. Another aspect that should not be underestimated is the fact that printers and converters need to comply with increasing and constantly changing environmental legislation.
That means the issue has been turned on its head and market acceptance is changing. Since solvent-based inks are the default, the question has long been, “Why should we use water-based inks?” Now, we can say, “Why don’t we use them?” The printed result is of the same quality, and water-based inks are the more sustainable solution. So why not? The reason is that the advantages of today’s water-based inks are still widely unknown. That’s what we want to change. That’s why we have established PRETHINK INK.
Not just one – everyone who has joined the network so far is making a difference, personally and as a company.
Everyone is playing an important part in creating awareness and helping us take steps into the future.
Consider the changes paper-based packaging has already undergone. Half a century ago, solvent-based printing on paper and corrugated board was standard. The following years saw a gradual change to water-based. At first, nobody wanted to do it, and now, obviously, nobody wants to go back!
I think the flexible packaging sector is in a similar position now. It will take time and a change of perception – a paradigm shift – before we see significant results. But once the industry has made that change, we will stick to it. Ink-makers, OEMs, packaging makers and brand owners will all notice the benefits.
Why should other stakeholders join PRETHINK INK and become part of the movement?
PRETHINK INK is an open network. We want partners from the whole value chain to get involved. It is clear to me that, if we want to bring about real change, we at BASF cannot do it on our own. Nor can any one ink maker, or machine maker, or printer, or brand-owner. But together, if we all support this technology, we have the power to achieve real and meaningful results.
We know that solvent-based inks are still by far the most commonly used. But today, water-based inks give the same quality, they offer obvious benefits in terms of sustainability such as lower environmental impact, and they are healthier for the staff at the print shop, at a comparable price level. They are also not subject to environmental regulations on solvent emissions and do not require explosion-proof equipment. They offer an excellent balance between business and sustainability goals. So why not go for it?
So let’s start the work! I am very much looking forward to the discussions our initiative will generate. And if you have been reading and wondering whether this network could be a good fit for you, please get in touch!
A few facts about our interview partner:
Name: Tjalle Hijlkema
Role: Marketing Manager for the flexible packaging industry
Specialisms: High-quality raw materials for the printing of food packaging, flexible packaging, corrugated board, paper or paperboard, labels, magazines or catalogs
Describe your role in 10 words: Helping ink-makers, OEMs, printers and brand-owners become more ‘planet and human safe’