Polywrap: What’s the alternative?

By | Blog

The Plastic Problem

We all know the problem with plastic: it litters our towns and cities, pollutes our oceans and waterways, and can have a devastating effect on our health and our ecosystem. Unfortunately, only 9% of all plastic that is produced gets recycled; most of it ends up in landfills or in our environment. Last year alone, nearly 8 million tons of plastic entered the global waterways.

Whilst it remains one of the most sustainable industries, the biggest problem that print faces with regards to plastic is polywrap.

Polywrap, a low-density polythene film, is almost universally used to carry subscription magazines to readers, to convey direct mail or keep the weekend supplements together for newspaper publishers and retailers. Every week, millions of polywrapped items make their way into the hands of businesses and consumers across the country.

Despite perceptions to contrary, polywrap is recyclable. However, many local authorities often refuse to collect it. Couple this with the fact that there are currently over 30 different sets of rules in force for plastic recycling across the UK, it’s little wonder end-users are confused about what to do with their polywrap-type waste.

So, what’s the alternative? With the global resistance to single-use plastics increasing, and more publishers and retailers looking for a viable, eco-friendly replacement to polywrap, three main alternatives are currently in the running: starch-based polythene; ‘naked’ mailing; or paper wrapping.

Starch-based polythene

Created from maize, wheat or potatoes, starch-based polythene is 100% biodegradable. It can be thrown into home compost bins or landfills where after about 12 months, it will have completely degraded into carbon dioxide, water, and natural residue. However, starch-based polythene is significantly more expensive than the alternatives – between twice and six times more expensive than standard polythene. Whilst starch is a readily available and renewable source, large quantities are needed for the manufacturing process. Starch-based polythene also has a relatively short shelf life and needs to be used within a month of manufacture. Furthermore, the material is not waterproof or particularly robust, so can be damaged relatively easily if exposed to the elements or heavy handling. Bioplastics also continue to incorporate materials derived from fossil fuels, so do not provide a perfectly sustainable solution.

Naked Mailing

Magazines and marketing collaterals are sometimes despatched without any wrapping at all, with the address details simply printed on the cover. This does provide a very cost-effective and eco-friendly solution as no additional material is used to cover or wrap the publication. However, naked mailing does not provide any protection against the elements, so the publication is more likely to get damaged. In addition, naked mailing does not accommodate the use of inserts, so this type of marketing collateral, which would normally accompany subscription magazines, is unable to be included in the mail out.

Paper Wraps

With the backlash against single-use plastics and with starch-based polythene still being problematic and expensive, more and more organisations are turning to paper as the most viable alternative to polywrap. However, until fairly recently, there wasn’t a viable paper-wrapping solution for magazines. Traditional envelopes are impractical for large mailings as each magazine would have to be inserted by hand rather than by machine. Furthermore, the envelopes’ mass increases postage costs.

Large publishers have therefore worked with their print suppliers to introduce lightweight paper wraps that add negligible extra mass.

National Geographic was the first high-profile magazine to switch as part of its “Planet or Plastic?” campaign. Currently, the publisher sends 2.5 million copies wrapped in paper to subscribers in the UK, US and India.

Country Life magazine has also moved to paper for its 20,000 postal copies, while London-based publisher Immediate Media has switched around 50 titles – including 12 BBC-branded products – to paper wrapping for all posted copies.

Benefits of Paper Magazine Wraps


  • Sustainable product: eco-friendly and recyclable (supports ISO14001)

Unlike polywrap, paper wrap packaging is very easily recyclable after use, and when sourced responsibly, provides a fully sustainable alternative

  • Cost-effectiveness

Paper wraps are cheaper to manufacture than the other eco-alternatives to polywrap

  • Postage Savings

Paper wraps are easier to process by Royal Mail’s machines (polywrap and starch-based wraps are not) and are therefore subject to the cheaper Mailsort options

  • Endless design and promotional opportunities

Paper magazine wraps are fully customisable – offering almost limitless design opportunities, which provides a more enticing and engaging piece of mail for subscribers

  • Robust and Durable

Paper wraps are robust enough to withstand the handling involved in postal processing, and do not degrade as rapidly as starch-based wraps when exposed to the elements


The Integrity Solution

At Integrity, we believe that paper is the only truly sustainable and viable alternative to polywrap. All of the paper used for our paper magazine wraps is sourced responsibly, in line with our continuous sustainability efforts.

Integrity has been developing bespoke paper wraps for a number of clients as an eco-friendly, robust, and cost-effective solution to the plastic problem.

To date, we have produced over 5 million paper wraps for publishers and retailers across the UK, offering almost limitless design capabilities and branding opportunities for our clients’ subscription mail pieces.

Our manufacturing process is ideally suited to produce paper wraps as all of our presses are wider, web based presses with up to ten print units allowing high ink coverage, which is often one of the key features of this product. We are now carrying wider paper stocks – 520mm 90gsm bond – to   accommodate the paper wrap market, and we can trim the print so a complete wrap-around design will match perfectly along the seam.

With multiple presses running around-the-clock, we have the capacity to produce high-volume runs, and with our Canon Colorstream digital press, we can also produce short runs at very competitive prices. Our machinery can also adapt to different repeat sizes, allowing you to maximise postal savings whilst snugly fitting your magazine into the wrap. We can also offer differing core sizes and reel diameters to suit your needs.

If you need a bespoke paper wrap solution and would like to discuss your project with one of our specialists, please call our friendly team or leave us a message.

What is Print Bleed?

By | Blog

If you’ve worked with commercial printers then, chances are, you’ve heard the term “bleed”. Perhaps you already know everything there is to know about it, or perhaps you’ve dismissed it as  technical jargon for the Graphic Designers to worry about, but from a printer’s perspective, “missing bleed” is one of the most common issues that we face. But what is bleed? Why is so important?

In printing terms, a bleed is where the printed design goes all the way to one or more edges of your finished document. To create a printed piece with a bleed, the original artwork must extend beyond the document trim size. This is usually by a margin of around 3mm on each side of your document, but you should always check with your printer before sending your artwork as they may have a slightly different setup which requires more bleed or less bleed.

Why is bleed important?

By extending your artwork past the final required trim size, you essentially eliminate the possibility of there being a thin strip of unprinted paper along the edge of your document. This can occur if you don’t allow for bleed and the paper might shift ever so slightly whilst it’s being trimmed at the Printers. Most printers will specify a trim margin of error which is typically around 1mm. You may think 1mm isn’t much at all but when you get your business card back you’ve perhaps got a full block of colour on your design, you WILL notice that 1mm of white stripe down the edge.

Below is an example of the same artwork with bleed and without bleed:

Should the one with no bleed be sent off for printing and the paper shifts during the trimming process, then you may end up with that thin white line down one edge. However, by having a 3mm bleed margin, you negate the possibility of ending up with that white line along the edge of your document, even if the paper does shift during the trimming process.

How do I add bleed to my document?

Using Adobe® software (a favourite with Graphic Designers), there are straight-forward steps to help you add bleed to your artwork.

Adobe® Photoshop®

  1. Open Photoshop and click File > New…
  2. Enter the FULL BLEED dimensions. That is, 1/4″ extra both vertically and horizontally.
  3. Set the Resolution at 300 pixels/inch
  4. Set the Color Mode to CMYK

Adobe® Illustrator

  1. Open Illustrator and click File > New…
  2. Enter the TRIM dimensions in the Width and Height boxes (for example, the trim dimension on a standard business card would be 3.5″ x 2″)
  3. Enter 0.125 for the top, bottom, left and right bleed
  4. Set the Colour Mode to CMYK
  5. Set the Raster Effects at High (300ppi)

Adobe® InDesign®

  1. Open InDesign and click File > New > Document…
  2. Enter the TRIM dimensions under Page Size (for example, a standard business card would have trim dimensions of 3.5″ x 2″)
  3. If you do not see “Bleed and Slug” at the bottom of the window, click the “More Options” button.
  4. Enter 0.125 for the top, bottom, left and right bleed

More in-depth Graphic design tutorials are readily available through the developer’s website. If you’re still unsure about adding bleed to your artwork, your commercial printer should be able to give all the guidance you need.

 Finishing Marks

As well as bleed, there are other quality control mechanisms that printers use to ensure your document is printed exactly as intended. Added at the design stage, finishing marks (also known as printer’s marks) are used to guide and inform the printer. Finishing Marks include bleed marks, trim marks, registration marks, and colour/grey tint proofing bars.

  • Trim marks – (a.k.a crop marks) are lines placed at the corners of an image or a page to indicate where to trim (cut) it. PDF Nomad 2 combines the trim marks with fold marks, that indicate where the paper is to be folded. Whereas the trim marks appear as solid lines, the fold marks appear as dashed lines
  • Bleed marks – are similar lines around the corners of printed material used to indicate the areas that are printed over the cutting edge (indicated by the trim marks)
  • Registration marks – are crosshair lines with a circle that guide graphics equipment and personnel in processing printed material during the printing and finishing process.
  • Proofing bars – are used by printers to ensure consistency and quality in printed output


So . . .

In a nutshell, if you want your printed design to go all the way to the edge of your paper, you must always include bleed in your document artwork.

The Integrity Solution

Our team of experts are market leaders when it comes to all things print. Our Pre-Press department can include add all the necessary finishing marks to your document artwork to ensure that it is print ready.

If you have any questions about print bleed or would like any advice about your print job, call us on +44 (0) 1761 409200 or leave us a message

Is Print Sustainable?

By | Blog

Is print sustainable? It’s been just over a month since I joined the print industry and after coming to the conclusion that it definitely isn’t dead, I found myself questioning whether or not it’s genuinely sustainable: How clean is it? What’s the environmental impact of this undying industry?

The C words

Whether it’s being lobbied by Greta or denied by Trump, climate change is one of the most prominent issues of the modern age. Environmental awareness is on the rise as more and more of us are demanding more sustainable solutions to the needs of our lives and businesses. So where does that leave print?

In the UK alone, it’s estimated that we use 12.5 million tons of paper each year. On average, it takes roughly 24 trees to make 1 tonne of white office paper.

Surely that isn’t sustainable?

Well, it seems that it isn’t quite as simple as that. Print companies have been sourcing sustainable supplies of paper for decades. 98% of the paper that is bought by Integrity comes with either FSC and PEFC certification. These organisations ensure that their paper is sourced only from sustainable forests, and the Chain of Custody Certification provides a means of identifying every link in the production chain; from source of timber, through to paper manufacture and the printing process. Considering this, the print sustainability promise appears to become more credible.

Myth busting

It seems that there is so much bad press when it comes to the sustainability of the print industry; so many preconceptions about deforestation, conspicuous consumption and unsustainability. What’s myth and what’s fact? Who do you listen to? There are always two sides . . . (shameless segue alert!) . . . Two Sides is an organisation that looks to dispel common environmental misconceptions by providing facts and information to its audience about the sustainability of the print and paper industries; addressing statements such as “paper is bad for the environment”, “paper production is a major greenhouse gas emitter” and “planted forests are bad for the environment

But what about the ink?

True. The VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions from solvent-based inks can have a detrimental effect on indoor air quality. The IPA (Isopropanol Alcohol) is one such contributor to this effect. IPA is also an expensive compound which requires specialist handling and storage areas. However, it would appear that the print industry has made positive steps when it comes to the ink problem, with water-based and vegetable-based inks being used more widely across the industry. Integrity’s Ink Switch initiative, lunched in 2018, has seen a significant reduction in VOC emissions across their site, as well as annual cost savings of over £30k.


ISO14001 sets the global standard for Environmental Management Systems and was designed to help businesses and organisations to reduce their environmental impact. But does that really make a difference? Is this just another box for HR departments to tick before they pat themselves on the back and then put their feet up for another 12 months until the next audit? No. The ISO14001 certification now calls for organisations to continuously improve, implementing proactive initiatives to protect the environment from harm and degradation, such as sustainable resource use and climate change mitigation.

The Supply Chain

Given the sheer volume of materials; the scale of production; and the complexity of the distribution networks; how do print companies ensure that every aspect of the supply chain is as sustainable as it can be? How do you mitigate the carbon impact of such an operation? The supply chain is undoubtedly one of the key areas of any print company, that requires a significant amount of intelligent and innovative management to ensure sustainability.

Sourcing sustainable materials is only one aspect. How those materials are used, processed, packaged, recycled and distributed are all factors that can have a tremendous impact on the sustainability of the entire supply chain. The value of sourcing paper from sustainable forests is greatly diminished if the waste just ends up in a land fill, or the production process relies on outdated, inefficient technology. It seems to be a finely balanced operation to ensure that every link in the supply is optimised for sustainability.

Whether it’s sourcing, packaging, distribution or recycling, Integrity Print takes a considered and innovative approach to the sustainability efforts within its supply chain. One of the most notable accomplishments is their “zero to landfill” status which has been achieved through their comprehensive and innovative waste stream management. Every piece of waste that leaves the Integrity site is either recycled, reused or recovered. Absolutely nothing ends up in landfill!

So, Mission Accomplished?

Not quite. Sustainability is an ongoing process and the industry itself, despite the significant progress already made, still has a long way to go; and that includes us.

At Integrity, we know that there is always more that can be done. As we continually look to improve our systems and technology, refine our processes and minimise our waste, we also ask you to challenge us!

If you have any thoughts on how we can make an even bigger impact with our environmental initiatives, we’d love to hear your ideas. No matter how big or how small. We can always do more!

Email us at or leave your suggestions and ideas on our Contact Page.

If we love it and we can do it, we will!

Is Print Dead?

By | Blog

Is print dead? This was the question that I was asked before I joined Integrity Print. So, put yourself in my shoes – a digital marketeer; a self-confessed ‘tech geek’; a natural advocate for the supremacy of digital media and technology; heading for an interview with one of the most prominent printing companies in the country and asked to give my opinion on whether or not their entire industry had succumbed to the rise of the digital age.

The obvious response to my would-be employers would have been to say “No! Of course not. Why would I choose to dive head-first into a new industry if I believed it was dying? Print is definitely not dead – it just needs better marketing” . . .  So that’s what I said!

Well, they seemed to like my approach and here I am in my first week at Integrity. Although my sentiment was genuine, I thought I should dig deeper and offer some insight into why I was prepared to make my bold statement. I took the time, did the research and asked myself the question “Is print dead?”.

In a word, no. Now, we could address the elephant in the room – this is a blog, it’s digital, and for the next 400 words or so, will proceed to explain why print hasn’t been killed off by digital media. However, for the sake of progression, let’s just sidestep the irony, shall we?

It’s true, we live in a digital age; millennials raised on pixels driving the social media machine ever forward; gigabytes of information being shared at the tap of a mousepad; and mobile phones and tablets basically running our lives. So, where does that leave the humble print industry? Alive and Thriving! Not convinced? Let’s explore . . .

The digital detox

This is something that one in five people surveyed admitted they needed, with 70% of people looking to reduce their overall consumption of digital media. True – digital technologies have transformed nearly every aspect of our lives, and will probably continue to do so, however, it seems digital fatigue is creeping in. And when it comes to brand awareness, 70% of people are more likely to remember a brand that they see in print versus online advertising.

The personal touch

Let’s face it, we’d all rather get an actual birthday card than an e-card; a letter rather than an email; and a gift voucher rather than a discount code.  We tend to have a stronger emotional connection with print; touch, feel and smell all playing their part. Brands are recognising that services like direct mail are connecting with recipients in a way that provokes action. According to the latest DMA Direct Mail Response Rate Report, the average response rate for direct mail is around 9%. Compare that with email which comes in at less than 1% and you can see why direct mail is a popular marketing channel for businesses who are looking to grow their brands.

Credibility and trustworthiness

Books, newspapers and magazines have been a part of our lives for decades, even centuries. As a result, we tend to place a great deal of trust in printed materials and the content we read within them. UK statistics show that printed media such as newspapers were the second most trusted source of advertising after television, with digital sources such as websites and social media falling behind. #fakenews

Digital is easier to abandon

Print, not so much. Once we’ve finished with a website, we’re likely to ignore it – all that digital detail competing for our attention: “Buy this”; “Subscribe here”; “Read our blog (!)”. But print occupies a physical space – reminding us of its presence even when we’ve put it down. As a result, we’re far more likely to pick it up again.

So . . .

Printing has been with us for over 500 years but far from being dead in a world of automated processing and artificial intelligence, print is not only alive but continues to connect with us in a way that can never really be replaced.