Enterprise Europe Network

Circular economy environmental solutions sought for the printing industry

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Partner keyword: 
Paper technology
Paper technology
Printing and binding
Other printing


An Austrian shetfed offset printing company has started the 1st Cradle-to-Cradle cooperative in the printing industry and wants to spread it all over Europe and beyond. Therefore, they are looking for sustainable environmental technologies, materials and processes in the sheetfed offset or digital printing value chain. They are looking for research and technical cooperation agreement to develop or introduce new products to the market as well as for commercial agreement with technical assistance.



The Austrian company is a printing and communication company which aims to reach the highest possible standard for ecological and healthy printing. The company produces high-quality sheet-fed offset and digital printing products ranging from business cards to books.

More than ten years ago they started a circular economy project to develop print products that are free from harmful substances and can be returned to the biological cycle based on the Cradle to Cradle Certified(TM) Certification Standard. Cradle to Cradle (C2C) means that resources circulate from the cradle to the cradle, instead of going one way from the cradle to the grave. All resources are technically or biologically recycled and none are wasted. This is a truly sustainable production: not trying to be less harmful, but to actually be eco-effective and do the right things straight from the beginning. Materials are considered to be like nutrients that can circulate in cycles on a permanent basis so that no waste is produced.

The production process of print products has been checked against Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Standard for its environmental impact throughout the whole product life cycle. To implement the concept, existing materials had to be replaced with healthy and eco-sensitive materials. As this was not possible in all cases, some components even had to be newly developed by the company. Cradle to Cradle print products have been developed for the biological cycle. They are suited for composting, combustion and cellulose recycling without harming human-beings or the environment.

After getting the C2C certification, the Austrian company founded together with partners from Denmark and Switzerland a sustainable printing community in 2019 with the headquarters in Austria with the legal form of a pan-European cooperative. The goal of this community is to share existing expertise, to promote C2C-print in Europe and beyond and develop together further printing components. Through the cooperative it will be guaranteed that the eco-effective and healthy printing products are produced locally where they are needed and therefore don't have to be shipped over long distances. The cooperative, among others, builds a buyers’ group, which makes it possible to encourage the suppliers to change and to improve their products and raise the awareness of all customers for the necessity of changing the way of producing products in order to reach a truly sustainable economy.

Therefore, the cooperative is interested in any kind of research results, technologies and products focusing on sustainable printing applications for sheetfed offset or digital printing.

Specifically, the cooperative is looking for research and technical cooperation agreement with companies or research institutions active in the field of circular economy along the printing value-chain. Together they aim to partner in order to develop new products and materials. The cooperative is also looking for new suppliers or partners wishing to establish a commercial agreement with technical assistance or new partners wishing to offer C2C services and certification, carry out assessments of new products and benefit from the know-how of the cooperative.

Technical Specification or Expertise Sought

Cooperation sought: 
The cooperative aims to optimise more materials for the Cradle to Cradle certification, in order to be in a position to meet any request from a customer in the future. The community plans to collaborate on further development projects. They have currently defined the following development areas: -range of further papers and cardboards, -envelopes, -film lamination, -range of varnish, -range of glues for post press or toner for digital printing. Further expertise may include adhesives, alternative binding techniques, alternative packaging (plastic-free) or closing the cycle by producing a recycling paper that is exclusively made of Cradle to Cradle Certified™ paper waste. All potential materials should be certified or eligible for certification. This means that all of their constituent substances must be known, i.e. all chemicals be identified in terms of their Chemical Abstracts Service registry numbers (CAS no.) and all constituent substances have to be suitable for the biological cycle regarding their toxicological and eco-toxicological properties.

Stage of development

Cooperation stage dev stage: 
Already on the market

Partner sought

Cooperation area: 
Type of partner sought: University, research organisations and companies 1) Research cooperation agreement: coordination and initiation of international research projects in the field of circular economy and especially along the printing value-chain, e.g. joint projects for materials development. 2) Technical cooperation agreement: the cooperative is always on the search for new suppliers to add improvements to the current processes and to add new materials to the production process. The cooperative is looking for suppliers of the products currently in its priorities (papers, adhesive, binding techniques) but is also open for completely new and innovative materials. 3) Commercial agreement with technical assistance: forward-thinking printing companies who want to get involved with this community to reach a big coverage for clients with Cradle to Cradle Certfied™ products and be the role-model industry when it comes to sustainable economies. Through the commercial agreement with technical assistance, new partners could join the cooperative, offer C2C certification as a service or carry out assessments of new products and benefit from the know-how of the cooperative in the C2C certification and materials.

Type and size

Cooperation task: 
SME 11-50,University,Inventor,R&D Institution,SME <10,>500 MNE,251-500,SME 51-250,>500