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Inside Retail & Kirk Group

Here’s one thing most brands forget on their sustainable packaging journey

Most brands these days are across sustainable packaging and have explored options like compostable bags, water-activated tape and biodegradable chips. After all, sustainability is part of being a forward-thinking, modern business these days. 

Businesses need to support consumer and brand sustainability objectives, help elevate every decision that makes an impact and be in a position to fast track innovation for future-ready performance.

Brands are looking to reduce the environmental impact of packaging production at every stage in a bid to reduce their overall footprint and appeal to consumer demand for a higher degree of sustainability in packaging. 

But what most brands fail to consider in the packaging process is how sustainable their printing process is. 

“Traditionally, the printing industry has been slow to take up sustainable practices from both a process and technical perspective, but that’s slowly changing, as emerging technologies are coming to the fore in Australia and New Zealand,” admits John Kapiniaris, General Manager at Kirk Group, which has been a leader in the local printing industry for 50 years.

Build the right printing and packaging team

For most brands, partnering with the right printing company comes down to innovation, capability and cost – at times it’s an afterthought and suppliers may not be involved in a brand’s discussions around their sustainability goals. 

“It’s critically important that brands engage with their partners along the packaging supply chain as early as possible and bring them into those early discussions,” says Kapiniaris. “We’re always keen to work with brands and be their technical supporting arm and really open up their options across the wider packaging sector,” with a clear focus to realise their vision.

In fact, since Covid hit and the risks around importing critical packaging and printing have increased, some businesses are now working with local vendors that can offer high-quality services at improved costs – without the increased carbon footprint or the danger of shipping and delivery delays.

“By converting from old printing processes to new technologies, we’ve been able to offer the Australian and New Zealand market more innovative and cost-effective packaging solutions, which is giving brands remarkable results and supporting them to work closely with the local packaging industry. That’s a big impact,” says Kapiniaris.

Introducing smart colour technology

One of the latest tech initiatives at the Kirk Group is the introduction of sophisticated smart colour technology, which reduces the number of colours used on printing presses – all while maintaining high-quality print outcomes. Smart colour strategy results in fewer plates, less ink used and less energy during the printing process.

In fact, one particularly popular Australian chocolate biscuit brand began using the technology over a year ago, with some amazing results, reveals Kapiniaris. We’ve been able to take a traditional nine-colour gravure printed design down to five colours using the Kodak Flexcel NX system, significantly reducing the cost, while achieving outstanding results, improving speed to market and maintaining local supply. When you apply the savings across numerous designs, it represents serious cost savings.

With consumers, brands and printers looking to reduce the environmental impact of packaging production at every stage, Kirk Group has now invested in the Kodak Flexcel NX Ultra aqueous solution from Miraclon, that will continue to deliver high-quality print, improved speed to market increased productivity and lower sustainable costs for years to come.

“It just makes good business sense to invest time in making sure you’re aligned with the right packaging partner to support your sustainability and business goals,” advises Kapiniaris. 

Visit Kirk Group’s website to find out more about our products and services and how we can help you achieve your print and sustainability goals.