The Path to Environmental Sustainability in Print

Top insights from our webinar on the opportunities in wide format, textile, and packaging



Carl Doty


Sign up for The Key Point of View, our weekly newsletter of blogs and podcasts!


Last week, Keypoint Intelligence Principal Analysts Eric Zimmerman, Jean Lloyd, and Johnny Shell hosted a subscriber-only webinar on the topic of sustainability across three print markets: wide format, packaging, and textiles. Clients of our Wide Format, Functional & Industrial Print, and Color Digital Labels & Packaging advisory services can log in to view a recording of the webinar in its entirety. Non-subscribers can obtain a complimentary viewing of the slides and recording here. The following blog post is a summary of some of the key insights from that session.


Let’s face it…the print industry isn’t exactly a bastion of environmental sustainability. The process of using large pieces of hardware to apply inks and solvents to paper, plastic, fabric, board, and other materials can be viewed by some as environmentally unfriendly. In fact, there are many reasons why sustainability is now a top strategic priority for the industry. For context, consider the following challenges from the three markets we focused on in the webinar:

  • In 2021, the wide format segment produced 253 million square meters of printed signage around the world. Most of that printed material ends up in landfills.
  • The textile industry is the second largest polluter on the globe—second only to oil & gas—using 93 billion cubic meters of water annually, which is often contaminated with volatile inorganic compounds (VICs). Not only is population growth a contributing factor, but the average consumer buys four-times more clothing today than they did just five decades ago.
  • In 2020, Amazon delivered 4.2 billion packages around the world. Sure, e-commerce boomed during the pandemic but, when you consider the explosion of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands over the past five to ten years (many of whom make the “unboxing experience” part of their marketing strategy), it’s easy to see how that number is just a fraction of the total amount of packaging material that is produced and consumed around the globe annually.



The scale of these data points can lead one to ask, “how can we do better?” The good news is that change is afoot. As governments institute regulatory change to focus on environmentally friendly business practices such as “circularity”, there’s also a shift of expectations among customers. Many studies have shown that most customers want more sustainable business practices. According to Accenture, 60% of consumers say they’ll even pay more for it. The print industry is responding in kind as OEMs and print shops transition to digital technology.



Other points to consider:

  • As wide format printers move to digital, the inks they use will also change to more environmentally friendly materials. For example, we predict that 29% of the wide format market will be printing with ultraviolet and latex-based material by 2025.
  • Digital print is transforming the packaging space across labels, flexible, folding carton, and corrugated board. The digital packaging space will grow to well over $200B globally by 2030 as it enables shorter production runs, reduces material waste, and enables on-demand packaging runs.
  • In the textile and direct-to-garment space, digital print enables the industry to face the water utilization problem head-on. In fact, estimates show that digital print reduces water consumption by 95% over traditional screen-printing methods.


These are just some of the opportunities that we discussed in the webinar. If you’re a Keypoint Intelligence client, I highly encourage you to login and listen to our experts as they dive into the challenges, market trends, and opportunities across these print markets. And be sure to check out our other posts on sustainability below.


Clients can Log in to the InfoCenter to view the full webinar and access exclusive research on all print markets in our production advisory services. If you’re not a subscriber, just send us an email at for more info.


Keep Reading

The Role of Digital Packaging in Our Planet’s Future

Sustainability Isn’t Just for Earth Day!

Sustainability in Print Needs Faster Implementation

Spotlight on Sustainability as COP26 Kicks off in Glasgow