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Environmental Best Practices, Part 2

(August 2008) posted on Mon Aug 27, 2007

In the first installment of this series, you learned why incorporating an environmental management system as part of a broader business plan is becoming an essential part of running any company. Here the discussion continues with a look at on-press cleaning materials and practices with a focus on identifying VOC risks.


By Neil Bolding, Steven Abbott

click an image below to view slideshow

In June, we took our first look at starting the process of making a screen-printing business more environmentally aware and responsible. The article covered the requirements of an environmental management system (EMS) and described the three things that are necessary for running a greener business; things that apply to just about any aspect of a business. Get any one of them wrong and plans tend to fall apart. These three essentials include the following:

• committed management

• good systems

• excellent work practices with staff who have bought in to the program

We focused on some of the savings MacDermid Autotype has achieved over the years, but I firmly believe there are significant savings that can be made by companies of any size, including printing businesses. The first steps detailed in the earlier article did not require looking at current materials usage but took the simpler approach of looking at business practices. In this article, we will move beyond practices to look at some of the key parameters associated with the materials you use and try to get a better understanding of their environmental impact.

 

Effective vs. safe: Which is more important?

Initially, it is essential to benchmark the current status of your material usage and the type and level of waste so that you can know through your EMS where you are coming from. This will help you make a well reasoned plan for improvements.

Within any EMS program, you must determine if you are in compliance in terms of the materials used or waste emitted. On a continuing basis, companies need to review their emissions to ensure they meet the local area EPA requirements for hazardous air pollutants or other volatile organic chemical (VOC) emissions. For example, many companies have historically used toluene-based press washes to wipe their screens down during a press run. The materials are low in cost and effective. But with our environmental hat on, this type of material would be unacceptable due to its high photochemically active nature, toxicity, and strict reporting requirements.


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