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Coated and printed substrates are a major challenge for the circular economy and thus for the printing industry. Where the mind-set used to be purely on excellent technical performance and good adhesion of ink to the substrate, today additional focus is put on a circular economy, where inks and coatings need to be removed, but also material efficiency, reuse and recycling are on the agenda.

Most Large Format Print & Sign (LFP&S) producers are still in the early stages of the transition to a circular economy.

For the first time in the creation of both organisations, Centexbel-VKC (Knowledge Centre for the Textile and Plastics Sector) and VIGC (Flemish Innovation Centre for Graphic Communication) will join forces to prepare the Large Format Print & Sign sector for a circular economy through market-ready concepts.

The target group consists mainly of SMEs where there is still room and the will to make products more circular. In addition, the recycling sector is also part of the GRACE target group as recycling is one of the 3 themes.

The solution

The primary objective of the GRACE project is to equip the Large Format Print & Sign industry with resources that promote circularity in their products. This objective is achieved through the provision of training, demonstrations, and publications that shed light on the potential of material efficiency, reuse, and recycling. In order to foster collaboration and facilitate knowledge sharing, both parties involved urge all companies within the LFP & Sign chain to engage in fundamental research on this subject. By doing so, they aim to create a comprehensive understanding, bridge any existing gaps, and establish a cohesive network among all stakeholders.

GRACE aims to develop a holistic approach that on the one hand maps, - evaluates and - introduces circular initiatives, and on the other hand maps current production and waste flows to identify the necessary actors along the value chain. These aspects are addressed by providing insights into:

  1. Reducing the amount of material used through optimised design and production processes
  2. Reusing materials by removing coatings and dyes, or applying top layers that allow reprinting
  3. Recycling of materials, removed inks/coatings and reprocessing of recycled material
  4. Establishing a circular value chain (collection, sorting, recycling, reuse)
  5. Creation of a holistic white paper covering the principles of reduction, reuse and recycling, both in theory and through physical demonstrators.
  6. Environmental and LCA aspects of the methods described.
  7. Facilitation of cooperation between the different actors in the new value chain.
The project targets companies across the Large Format Print & Sign value chain for the development and adoption of these sustainable methods, ranging from raw material producing companies, machine manufacturers, print service providers, distributors, end users and recycling partners.

Project managers

Willem Uyttendaele

Researcher "Textile Functionalisation & Surface Modification"
+32 9 241 86 83

Fons Put

+32 (0)495 232 134

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Project financing

Collective Research & Development and Collective Knowledge Transfer (COOCK), financed by VLAIO

Project HBC.2023.0472

01/01/2024 – 31/12/2026