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What is Foil Printing and is it Recyclable?

By November 16, 2022News

Foil printing is something we are getting increasingly used to seeing on everything, from great packaging to invites and business cards. It can create a really distinctive aesthetic and is a look that stands out from the rest. A key consideration for many people today is how sustainable something like foil printing is and, in particular, whether it can be recycled to help minimise the impact that our purchases and business investments have on the environment.

What is foil printing?

It’s a technique that is used to embellish to create a gorgeous metallic finish that is eye-catching and very unique. You’ll find it today in many different places, including luxury packaging, striking business cards and even stamps and labels that are intended to provide reassurance of quality or credibility. It also often appears on greetings cards and marketing materials that are a cut above the rest. Foil printing can be achieved using a process of hot foiling – which uses a heated die to stamp a design onto a material such as card or paper in a metallic foil. This can also be done using cold foiling – where the foil has an adhesive back – or digital foiling, where it is printed. Each of these types of foiling will produce the metallic finish but they are all also quite different. For example, hot foiling tends to generate a much more textural look with more depth.

Is foil printing recyclable?

The short answer is: yes. The foil that is used in foil printing is incredibly thin – the coating weight is often less than conventional ink, which means that it can easily be put into the recycling bin. Recycling involves adding water to products like paper and then turning this into a pulp, which can then be recycled. Because of its nature, the very lightweight foil will simply dissipate during the pulping part of the recycling process. This applies to any product where foil printing has been applied – if the material it is applied to is recyclable then the foil printing part will be too. There is even a study that has confirmed this. The Foil Stamping & Embossing Association carried out research into whether foil printing was a genuinely recyclable product. The study concluded that all paper products are recyclable, whether they are printed via hot foiling, cold foiling or digital foiling. The study also clarified that none of these processes would create any problems for any products when it comes to recycling.

So, what does that mean for sustainability goals?

It means that if you’re looking to create distinctive marketing materials or design business cards that really pop you don’t have to compromise on aesthetic or quality to stick to your sustainability goals. There are also some attractive cost benefits to choosing foil printing to create your most appealing designs.

Foil printing is a great technique for adding a metallic finish onto everything, from packaging to business cards – and, the best news is, that it’s fully recyclable too.