Interview with Alfons Leonhart
The Leonhart printing house in Gangkofen, Bavaria oriented its offset printing operations towards sustainability about 15 years ago: this involved the applied printing materials, ecological electricity from renewable energies and on to the “greening” of the Companies’ premises. In addition Managing Director Alfons Leonhart has always implemented many ideas on sustainable printing.
The latest achievement is the label “Ökopress” or “Eco Press” which is the first free quality seal in the offset printing field. Based on the foundations of the label “Der Blaue Engel” the printing House is calling on additional, stricter criteria for environmental protection. In order to be entitled to use the Ökopress label on printed products, the complete production chain must comply with most modern environmental standards: from chemical free printing plate production right up to completely deinkable printing inks. In addition, the usage of ecological electricity as well as paper, which comes from 100 % recycled paper or from renewable forests, count.
You are a pioneer in printing with ecological inks. How long have you been using them and which properties must environmentally friendly ink have for you?
Our guideline always was that all inks and varnishes should be without mineral oils as binder agents and virtually free of heavy metals. The inks should not be poisonous, harmful, irritating or carcinogenic. Today, the aspect of deinkability has also taken on enormous significance.
Did you need a lot of patience until the reservations of the customers regarding the quality of environmentally friendly inks were relieved?
Ecological printing has been a topic, of course, for a long time, particularly among branded companies. First, the de facto customer interest was rather reserved, but there were apprehensions regarding ecological inks. That has in fact changed markedly over the last few years.
“Our customers are also feeling the societal rethink and they ask us for solutions. This is where our experience as pioneers in environmentally friendly printing comes into play.”
With all the plus points for ecological inks: which printing jobs leave you with no alternative and how do you deal with this?
We print every job with ecological inks or PURe®. That is exactly what our customers appreciate.
In public debate, sustainability is demanded, especially in packaging. Is that also your feeling regarding your customers?
Our customers are also feeling the societal rethink and they ask us for solutions. This is where our experience as pioneers in environmentally friendly printing comes into play as the customers receive individual, forward-thinking advice.
You spoke out very early on against inks with cobalt soaps. One reason why you became a PURe® user. Which other ink properties made you curious about PURe®?
The avoidance of cobalt soaps in printing inks complied fully with our philosophy. In this connection of course we checked intensively whether the printing and drying properties of PURe® ink and its further processing, would work for us. Furthermore, the outstanding deinkability was particularly interesting for us.
Could you tell us, based on your printing experience: In which applications has PURe® convinced you especially? What would you like to continue to work with us on?
Printing on offset paper leads to really convincing results. Currently we are working with the application technology people on consequently expanding the application range of PURe®.