December 2019

As the end of the year approaches, we’ve always felt that sending a physical Christmas card was an integral part of sharing our festive feelings with our clients, and since 2014, the cards have been designed in house by our product design team.

This year at 42 Technology we have set up two new working groups on Circular Design and Sustainable Energy. We share the public’s growing concerns over the linear waste economy, and during 2019 we have been excited to see public concern start to coalesce into commercially driven innovation projects with our clients. As the shape of what we do professionally starts to shift towards building a more sustainable world, we felt the need to rethink our Christmas Cards, and set ourselves a bold challenge: how far could we go towards a fully sustainable Christmas Card, one that wouldn’t need to end up in a landfill in a month’s time?

Society’s road to sustainability will be a bumpy one. In some fields, industries will be able to drop new materials into existing processes or redesign for reuse without impacting the end product too much. In other areas, there will be more serious trade-offs: whether it’s a move to paper straws that stick to your lips, or having to carry a (slightly leaking) coffee mug in your bag, the products we live with will have to change, sometimes in ways that not everyone will like.

In creating Christmas Cards in previous years, we created colourful shiny designs, but taking stock this year we decided that there were several things we’d need to do differently. Our 2016 card was gold foil embossed with multicoloured icons. Sadly, though often beautiful, foiling on cards poses major challenges for recyclers and in effect is unsustainable.

2017’s design was not foiled but the card used was gloss coated. This is generally a thin plastic film laminated onto the card. This lamination means micro-plastics can be put into our waste and water systems.

And as we reflect on 2018, our card scored high on fun (penguin lemmings!) but poorly on environmental impact, consisting of coated paper with silver foil!

This year, we looked at many options: seed cards, reindeer poo paper, e-cards, or no card at all. We ended up designing the card you have in your hand now. It is made of Nautilus® SuperWhite which is 100% post-consumer recycled paper with FSC recycled and EU ecolabel certifications. The paper is “processed chlorine free” this means the mill reduces the amount of harmful waste created by the process.  We are also lucky that paper unlike plastic is widely recycled throughout the world and even when is put in a landfill it will biodegrade.

The design may be hard to see in some light, but we hope it has kept you looking and perhaps made you think. It is a simple embossing with a minimal approach to ink. This reduces the amount of bleaching required when it is put back into the recycling stream. So, once you have decided Christmas is over for 2019, please put this card in your paper recycling bin – it may even be part of your card next year!

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Have a sustainability challenge of your own?

Email answers@42technology.com or give us a call on +44 (0)1480 302700.