Global Flexo Innovation awards judging underway

The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

These awards, perhaps better known as the Kodak Flexcel Awards, have been around for several years. They were established in the tenth anniversary year of the Flexcel NX plate system’s introduction. The idea was, and is, to encourage excellence in flexography. Now under the stewardship of Miraclon, entries are coming in for the 2021 prizes. Companies from across the globe are competing in four award categories, and the awards are open to any user of the Kodak Flexcel NX plate production system.

These awards are unusual in that the judging is based on criteria other than print production excellence, which is assumed. They also stand out because there are no separate subcategories for different packaging or print formats. Instead the awards are based on four criteria: show-stopping creativity in graphic design; wholesale conversion from other print processes; record-setting print production workflow efficiency, and a commitment to sustainable print. Some of these categories can overlap depending on the entry. The only requirement is that the entry is a commercial packaging project printed using Flexcel NX, and no self-promotional projects are allowed.

None of these categories will be easy to judge, so judges (including yours truly) will be relying on the details in the application, plus dialogue with the entrants managed by the independent awards organisers, Flexo Global. These details should be as comprehensive as possible, so prospective contenders take note. Keep in mind several important facts, facts on which these awards depend, the most important of which is the transformation bit. All entries should show how a particular flexo printed packaging project has helped to drive transformation in the industry. The most obvious means to achieve this is to produce work using flexography that might otherwise have been printed using gravure printing. 

But there is more to it than stealing work from other less sustainable printing methods. These prizes reward business commitment to flexography as well, for instance by asking entrants to demonstrate the role the Flexcel NX system plays in a business’s growth strategy. Showing business acumen extends beyond technology to business partnerships. It is imperative that steps towards any form of transformation get and keep customers on board. This is a hard thing to express in an application for an industry award.

The most important concern however is environmental sustainability. Demonstrating how a given project aids sustainability might be fairly straightforward. A simple calculation of the carbon footprint using a carbon calculator such as ISO 16759 (for calculating the carbon footprint of print media products) would answer. However, applicants must show how sustainability is at the heart of the business strategy, for instance through certification to ISO 14001 (environmental management). More important is the dialogue between the company and its customers, and this too is hard to demonstrate. But it must be done to qualify as a contender in the Global Flexo Innovation Awards. Overall they set a very high bar for the competitors and I look forward to being part of the show. 

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa GraphicsEFIFespaFujifilmHPKodakMiraclonRicohSpindrift, Splash PRUnity Publishingand Xeikon.

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