Apr 15 Celloglas News

The pub menu: A life cycle analysis

New research conducted by The Retail Institute has found evidence to support the hospitality sector in its mission to implement more environmentally friendly practices. It’s found that lamination for menus is more environmentally friendly than repeatedly printing paper menus. 

Here, we discuss the findings of the study and what it means for brand owners.

The pitfalls of printing paper

Businesses in the hospitality sector, as well as airlines and travel companies, have big decisions to make when producing and sourcing menus and other marketing pieces. While lamination is an effective way to protect printed materials, some are still opting to print new paper menus for every customer rather than opting to use a laminate. 

Celloglas commissioned The Retail Institute, which is based at Leeds Beckett University and one of the UK’s key academic research centres, to find out how environmentally friendly lamination is compared to more frequent replacement of printed matter. The Retail Institute analysed the life cycle of printing paper in an attempt to identify whether lamination is more environmentally friendly than printing a new paper menu for each customer. Companies find they’re replacing such menus more often because they’re less robust and struggle to withstand heavy usage.

This detailed life cycle analysis took into account materials and energy usage in the time from raw material to final disposal. Raw materials used to print a pub menu (virgin paper and polypropylene) were examined to ascertain the most eco-friendly material with the least environmental impact. Polypropylene is what’s used to produce the most commonly used lamination films, and is also frequently found in food and beverage packaging because of its moisture resistance and increased strength. 

The results broken down 

All those in the hospitality sector – pubs, restaurants and hotels, for example – as well as airlines and any other firms that rely on printed matter that’s frequently handled should take heed of these findings. Laminating food menus can be better for the environment than using new paper.

The study found new paper to emit more acidifying effects to the environment than lamination (acidification affects the ocean by emitting nitrogen oxides), as well as a bigger amount of carbon dioxide (as production of paper affects the climate change).

To put it simply, lamination helps with the longevity of the used paper – it becomes tear-proof and waterproof. Laminating means replacing the menus less frequently and therefore usage of virgin paper is reduced and so increases the sustainability of the paper industry. 

What this means for brand owners

At Celloglas, we always recommend laminating for the simple reason it offers additional protection. For products that need an extended life span, lamination is waterproof and provides unrivalled resilience to help menus and marketing materials perform and withstand frequent handling, spills and scuffs. But the fact it’s been found to be more environmentally friendly compared to more frequent replacement should better inform many industries. It will help pubs, restaurants and cafes continue to meet stringent hygiene standards, all the while helping contribute to wider environmental targets. However small a change this may feel to those who currently print paper menus, rest assured it’s a step in the right direction to the industry’s drive towards a circular economy

What’s more, in an innovative move to combat the spread of bacteria on these products that receive such frequent handling, Celloglas is now able to provide Cellomed laminates and coatings and varnishes. These effective finishes are applied to paper and board to provide long-lasting antimicrobial protection to printed material.

Contact us to find out more about Cellomed and how it can benefit your packaging or print project.