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Is Foil Printing Recyclable?

Is Foil Printing Recyclable?
30 July 2020
Is Foil Printing Recyclable?

What Is Foil Printing?

There are a few methods of foil printing and some confusion as to whether metallic paper can be recycled or not. Unlike crisp packets that are fused with plastic, printed foil is widely recycled. Read on to discover different printing methods and how foil printed paper and card is recyclable and sustainable.

foil printed material

Foil printing is also known as hot stamping or foil blocking. It is used to embellish marketing materials with a metallic finish for a premium look and to draw attention to details. For example, gold foil business cards are particularly popular. We also have a range of foil business cards printed on recycled paper foil business cards printed on recycled paper.

How Is Foil Printing Done?

There are several types of foil printing which can be divided into the three main categories. For each method, there are a range of colours, including silver, copper and gold. Read on to discover the different ways of transferring it onto paper or card.

Hot Foiling

Originally, a heated die was used to stamp foil onto card using bespoke metal plates that were made for each design. The finish looks slightly embossed and textured from the pressure of the die.

Cold Foiling

Traditional block foiling evolved into cold foiling, where the metallic paper was backed with adhesive so it could stick to the card or paper. This method leaves a slight texture on the metallic paper and it is less shiny than other methods.

Digital Foiling

Digital foiling is the latest process that achieves fast foil printing with less waste. It is more efficient because it prints straight from a computer file without any need for custom stamping plates. This means that there is less waste, no setup costs and a faster turnaround. Unlike other methods, it is suitable for use on digital printed materials with a coated finish such as soft touch laminates. It is ideal for fast printing foil projects or small quantity orders. Plus, it can be used on any type of paper or card and it has a smooth, consistent finish and shine. It is also a dry printing process that is solvent free.

Is Digital Foil Printing Recyclable?

business cards in the recycling bin

Printed foil is so thin that the coating weight is often less than conventional ink, so it completely dissipates during the re-pulping process. Therefore, you can simply put it into the recycling bin.

Is Foil Printing Environmentally Friendly?

Recycled paper process

For marketing managers, it can often be challenging to balance cost, environmental/sustainability issues while also providing an eye-catching design. Some people believe that sustainable packaging and print materials can’t be attention grabbing. They think that there is a trade-off between aesthetics and sustainable materials. However, foil printing offers striking results, giving your brand a premium edge, while also being recyclable and compostable. The image above shows paper after it has been turned into a pulp ready to be made into recycled paper. We can print several products such as foil flyers and brochures using recycled material. We also offer holographic business cards which can also be printed onto recycled paper.

Study Confirms The Recyclability Of Foil Printing

re-pulping and processing paper

The Foil Stamping And Embossing Association (FS&EA) conducted a study into the recycling process of foil printed materials. The study concluded that all paper products are recyclable whether they are printed using hot stamping, cold foiling or digital foil printing. The study also found that none of these printing processes would create problems for other decorating processes making them unsuitable for recycling. The recycling process involves mixing the paper or card products with water to turn it into a pulp. It is then pressed, dried and rolled into new sheets of large thin paper. 

Details of the recycling study are available from the FS&AE website.


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