Foilco & The Environment

The primary use for our foil is as a decorative embellishment to add colour, texture and brilliance. Foil is unrivalled in terms of the print techniques and final finish it can achieve. Foil is not just for decoration either, it has many functional uses and practical applications such as on wheelie bins, syringes, blood bags and for date coding.

There are four main types of printing foils – Hot stamping foil, Die-less / Cold foil, Digital and Textile foil. At Foilco, we manufacture and supply our product in grades to suit all applications in either a pigment, metallic or holographic finish. Our pigment foils can also be gloss or matt.

Metallic foil includes vacuum-metallised aluminium, the most recycled and abundant metal on the planet.

Once the foil has been transferred onto paper or board, it is still fully recyclable. The foil coating is so thin that it dissipates in the re-pulping process. Foil is also a fully compostable material.

There are other products on the market that may appear to be like foil but do not possess the robust environmental credentials of foil. Our printing foils are not the same as aluminium foil, laminate film, or metallised film.

Foil is not laminate film
Laminate film is typically a base film, such as Polyester (PET) or OPP which is adhered to a paper or board.
The decorative metallic finishes of laminate can easily be confused with foil however, they are very different products.

Laminates cannot easily be separated from paper or board making the recycling process very difficult. Most laminated board therefore ends up in landfill.

Foil is not glitter
Most glitter is made from a combination of aluminium and Polyester (PET). That translates into a million tiny bits of plastic scattered all over landfills and the oceans.

We have developed the perfect glitter alternative, called the Astral Range – a hyper-realistic glitter effect foil. The range, consisting of silver and gold variations, has all the aesthetically pleasing attributes of traditional glitter products but comes with the additional peace of mind that the printed paper or board remains a fully repulpable or compostable product

Transfer metallised board is essentially cold foil
Another method to create metallic silver, gold or holographic board is by a process known as transfer metallising. This is where board is fully coated essentially using the cold foil method. This board is then often overprinted to create a colour effect or image. There is still the requirement to manage waste PET carrier with this process.

Both cold and hot foils applied up to a coverage of 80% have better environmental credentials in that they are both repulpable and can therefore be recycled.

• Stamping foil is a dry, solvent-free process that uses the minimum amount of energy

• Waste prevention is a top priority. We boast the lowest minimum order quantities in the industry and can supply our foil to any width in order to counter unnecessary waste.

• Waste foil is repurposed as SRF, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

• Paper or board with foil applied to it can be repulped and therefore recycled.

• Paper or board with foil applied can be composted.

Foilco were the very first foil company to set up a foil recovery scheme and to be certified as ZeroFoil2Landfill compliant. A scheme backed by the British Printing Industry Federation (BPIF).

We have worked hard to ensure that there is very little waste in the production and use of our foils. We want to make sure that any unavoidable waste is managed in an environmentally sound way.

Using a specialist waste management company, we work alongside printers and print finishes to recover foil waste. The thin polyester carrier layer has a high calorific value which means the waste film can be converted to Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) for use by other industries. This helps reduce the use of fossil fuels – 12 tonnes of polyester film replaces 10 tonnes of fossil fuel.

Since Aug 2017, we have recovered over 500 tonnes of foil that otherwise would have gone to landfill. That’s approximately 80,000 bags of foil (5.84 million litres). With our customers, we’ve prevented this from ending up in UK landfill. And the resulting SRF will have replaced the need to burn over 400 tonnes of fossil fuels.

We continue to prove the end-of-life environmental credentials of our foil through comprehensive testing and laboratory studies.

Composting study – INTERTEK (EN13432)
9 month test study of a pigment foil and a metallic foil printed onto certified compostable 300g board to EN-13432.

The test criteria covers four key characteristics of the test material:
1. Disintegration during biological treatment
2. Biodegradability
3. The effect on the biological treatment process
4. The effect on the quality of the resulting compost

The results showed that the degree of disintegration after 12 weeks was 99.2%. That meant that only 0.8% of the test sample remained, far less than the maximum 10% required to meet the guidelines.

After 135 days, 92.61% of the organic carbon in the foil samples had converted to carbon dioxide. Again, well within the target and timeframe of no less than 90% within 180 days.

Finally, the toxicity test on the compost sample containing the pigment and metallic stamping foils did not show any negative effect on the seedling emergence and seedling growth. In fact, the root and shoot growth rate of some of the seedlings tested were slightly more than in the control sample.

We continue to prove the end-of-life environmental credentials of our foil through comprehensive testing and laboratory studies.

Repulpability Testing – SGS (SGS-IPS 01683-19)
Repulping is the process of re-wetting paper or board to enable the reproduction of more paper and board. During this process the paper or board fibers are dispersed along with any inks and foils.

The results proved that 80% foil coverage of a product does not affect the repulpability of a recyclable material. The test showed that, once transferred, foil is so thin that it dissipates within the re-pulping process.

Hitting Net Zero
Foilco’s environmental development roadmap continues to focus on the decarbonising of our office and manufacturing operations. Our ultimate goal is to become a Net Zero company in 2026.

We have partnered with Ecologi who will offset our total operation emissions accounted for in 2022 through deforestation prevention, social impact projects and other initiatives that align with Foilco’s values.

From 2023 we aim to implement a Net Zero carbon reduction plan with interim targets to enable us to meet our conclusive Net Zero ambition in 2026. Our partnership with Ecologi will continue throughout this journey as we reduce our emissions.

We partner with leading global test laboratories to provide any reassurances required in the specification of our foils. These include:

Ingestion EN 71-3
The EN 71-3 standard is designed to assess the migration of certain chemicals into the body if a toy or components of a toy were to be swallowed by a child.

Food contact EU 10/2011
Regulation (EU) 10/2011 sets out safety requirements for foils intended to come into contact with food.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and further information is available on request.


Recyclable and Repulpable

We’re passionate about explaining the environmental benefits of stamping foils and it’s of paramount importance to us to change some of the existing misconceptions and perceptions about foiled papers and boards.

Did you think the metallic effect on the foil meant you couldn’t recycle it? You can, as long as the material/substrate that you foil onto is repulpable. Once transferred foil is so thin, that it dissipates within the re-pulping process. #NotAnotherEnvironmentalPolicy

Zero Foil to Landfill

We are environmentally responsible and provide support to the print industry by reducing the amount of foil waste. We are the first foil company to be certified as ZeroFoil2Landfill compliant – A scheme backed by the BPF.

Using a specialist waste management company, Foilco can now work alongside printers and print finishes to recover their own foil waste, which is converted into SRF – a higher quality and more environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel(s).

Vegan Product

All our products (except KMS/KMP grades – which include a small amount of beeswax) are vegan-friendly. The foils contain no animal ingredients or animal by-products, no known animal-derived GMOs or genes in the manufacturing process, and haven’t been tested on animals.

Material Safety Data Sheets are available on request and should you wish to find out more about the composition of our foils, you may contact one of our representatives.

ISO 14001

Environmental friendliness and sustainability are no longer only of interest to enthusiastic idealists

Foilco understands Environmental awareness is present in the majority of economic sectors.

We are pleased to hold certification of the ISO 14001:2015 standard. An internationally recognised award that indicates a business’s internal activities aligned to the responsible protection of the environment.

The final audit determined  “There were no major or minor non-conformance(s) at any point of the assessment. A first in my career as a BSI ISO auditor”.

It is within our interests to do what is right for the industry but it is our mission to play our part in doing what is best for the planet.

Want to find out more about Foilco’s Environmental policies? You can download our

“Not Another Environmental Policy – Digital Pack”

by clicking the button below:



You can download our new (2023)

Environmental Policy Document

by clicking the button below:



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