Windles has carried out "very successful" tests on a biodegradable glitter for use on its products, as part of an ongoing strategy to improve environmental performance.
The Oxfordshire-based group, which specialises in greetings cards and luxury packaging, is investing in a new process for the production of more sustainable glitter.
Glitter is made out of microscopic pieces of aluminium combined with polyester and has been targeted by a number of environmental bodies.
By replacing the polyester with cellulose, Windles, three-time winner of the PrintWeek Awards Social Stationery Printer of the Year category, is hoping to produce a new version of glitter which can biodegrade in compost “within days” of disposal.
Marketing manager Michelle Mills said: “This is obviously a work in progress; one thing we are focused on is maintaining shine. The world would be a sad place if glitter lost its sparkle.
“Environmental concerns are at the front of a lot of people’s minds because of programmes such as Blue Planet on the BBC. People in the industry look to us as a champion for these kinds of causes, so we see it as our responsibility to take the lead.
“Obviously there will be barriers, as there are with everything, because this will inevitably be more expensive than normal glitter. But I think there is a mood change now and that 2018 will be a pioneering year across the board for the world to sort itself out.”
Windles' project was announced on Twitter on 17 January, with the firm's official account saying the first test sessions were "very successful". The work is part of the company's Loop It scheme to become more environmentally friendly.
Microplastics and microbeads, such as glitter, were highlighted as a cause for concern in November last year, when it was reported that the world’s oceans have been impacted by up to 51 trillion fragments of the material in total. A study by Professor Richard Thompson showed that plastic was found in a third of UK-caught fish.
A ban on materials such as microbeads will come into force in the UK this year, as environment secretary Michael Gove said plastic waste was “putting marine wildlife under serious threat”.
Windles’ green work extends to its 4,200sqm premises, opened in January 2016, which runs its power off 35% daylight and monitors usage of electrical material. The firm has nearly 100 staff working at its Thame, Oxfordshire home and offers both litho and digital printing services.