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Agfa Graphics’ Closed Loop Supply Chain for Printing Plates Honored with Supply Chain Award 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Press release from the issuing company

At the Gala Award Event in Antwerp, Agfa Graphics was honored with the Belgian Supply Chain Award 2015. The winning project about sustainability through recycling via collaborative supply chain was selected out of six nominees.

"This project stands because of the number of area’s in the supply chain that were involved: from purchasing, it’s suppliers, to sales, it’s customers, as well as different outside partners", said Christian Van Doorslaer, Chairman of the Supply Chain Award jury. “It’s a very good example of supply chain collaboration within the networked organization.”

With the Supply Chain Award-Project of the Year, The Belgian Purchasing and Logistics Association and the Belgian Society for Integrated Supply Chains aim to bring supply chain projects under the attention of management and executives in Belgian companies and government organizations. It should stimulate them to invest more in projects that improve the efficiency of their supply chain processes.

Agfa Graphics’ winning project involves the supply of aluminum printing plates, which are vital consumables to the offset printing industry. Agfa Graphics is a world-leading supplier of such plates, which represent more than 60% of its turnover.

With the project, Agfa Graphics and a number of partners in the supply chain of printing plates presented a sustainable closed-loop solution to their high-volume customers in which high-grade aluminum can be reused without value loss.
An evaluation of the carbon footprint for printing plates showed first evidence that the impact of the life cycle of plates on the environment is highly influenced by the production of the aluminum itself. The study demonstrated that current recycling technologies allow for the use of recycled printing plates in the plate production process. This reduces the total carbon footprint with 70% given the aluminum is carefully sent back to the manufacturer after being used on the printing presses. Consequently, the setup of a collaborative supply chain is crucial.

“This study project inspired us to develop and implement a new circular supply chain for printing plates,” said Geert Lammens, Vice President Operations, Agfa Graphics. “It aims at a process that is both financially and environmentally sustainable for all parties involved, including aluminum suppliers, logistics partners, printing companies and Agfa Graphics as solution provider.”
The closed loop approach guarantees that the aluminum is not uncontrollably downcycled, yet instead maintains its intrinsic value as much as possible.
“It all fits with the targets of the European Commission to turn the European economic activities into a circular economy mode,” Geert Lammens added. ”The system is being internationally rolled out in the market with printing companies that have the appropriate volume of aluminum as well as the ability to participate in such the closed loop approach.”
As a winner, Agfa Graphics can now compete in the European Award for Logistics Excellence, organized by ELA (European Logistics Association). This European competition is a champions league, only accessible to winners of national awards from associations affiliated to ELA.


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