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Printing Environmental Technology Fact Sheet
Self-Assessment Checklist: Commercial Printing
What is Pollution Prevention?
Stopping pollution before it starts. Experts from industry, academia and government agree that pollution prevention means more than stopping pollutants from entering the eco-system or cleaning them up after the fact. These methods, pollution control and waste management, fall short of true prevention, which means going to the source and reducing - or preventing - the formation of the pollutants themselves.
Many printers are now finding that pollution prevention pays. This information packet will help you learn how you can reduce waste and increase efficiency. No matter what size your print shop is, there are viable pollution prevention options for you.
While every print shop is different, there are many activities that are common to all. Like water, gas and electricity, waste management is another cost of doing business, which can be minimized with proper planning and consideration. This checklist provides a general overview of some quality control and pollution prevention options that can help printers achieve compliance and reduce waste.
Keep it on file for your use, and review it periodically. Tips written in bold italics may be required by regulations, depending on your generation status and your location. Many of the options highlighted here are summarized in more detail in the accompanying fact sheets. There are five main sections in this checklist:
1. General Housekeeping
Some housekeeping suggestions here may seem like common sense, but it is easy to take them for granted. Many printers are surprised to find that following these tips can help reduce waste generation by at least 20%. And it generally costs little or nothing!
A. OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES
How often do you check your equipment for operating efficiency? How well are your employees trained in noticing potential malfunctions?
B. INVENTORY CONTROL
Inventory control is all about common sense purchasing. What you bring into your shop (or don't bring in) ultimately determines what goes out.
The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires every individual that is in contact with any hazardous material(s) to be comprehensively trained on proper chemical handling procedures, how to read a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), what to do in case of an emergency, and the health hazards associated with each chemical they come in contact with. Some trade associations and local environmental health agencies sponsor employee training seminars and some consulting firms offer employee training as part of their package of services for hazardous waste management.
D. MATERIAL HANDLING AND STORAGE
Additional hazardous waste may be generated if raw materials or hazardous wastes are stored improperly. All containers need to be clearly labeled. Store in closed containers, preferably in a locked, covered, indoor area with a concrete floor and curbs for spill containment.
2. Image Processing
A. PROCESS BATHS
Carefully monitoring all photo processing baths can help extend the life of chemicals and reduce waste, thereby saving money.
B. SILVER MANAGEMENT
Used fixer from film developing processes contains silver, a toxic heavy metal. Concentrations of silver in used fixer usually far exceed allowable limits for discharge to municipal water systems, and therefore must be controlled with silver recovery technology.
3. Plate Processing
Gravure printing, metal etching and metal plating operations are not covered in this packet because these processes are covered in informational materials related to metal casting and finishing. For more information on these processes, contact the Montana Pollution Prevention Program toll-free at 888/MSU-MTP2.
Which of the following press automation features have been added, or are proposed to be added, to reduce makeready times, improve quality and reduce paper waste (many of these technologies may be appropriate for larger printers):
Use of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) -- a volatile organic compound (VOC) -- is restricted by increasingly stringent Clean Air Act regulations. Printers should seek ways to reduce their use of IPA. (See Fact Sheet #4 "Fountain Solution Solutions").
Some inks present health and environmental hazards because they may contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which contribute to air pollution and lead to the formation of smog, and because they may contain hazardous constituents such as heavy metals or toxic stabilizers. Product substitution and/or effective ink management can help reduce risk of exposure to these hazards, and can reduce waste.
The clean-up stage presents many feasible and common-sense opportunities to prevent pollution.
Produced by Todd MacFadden, Pollution Prevention Technical Specialist and Michael P. Vogel, Ed.D., Pollution Prevention Director, with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. June, 1996.
Reasonable effort has been made to review and verify information in this document. Neither PNEAC and its partners, nor the technical reviewers and their agencies, assume responsibility for completeness and accuracy of the information, or its interpretation. The reader is responsible for making the appropriate decisions with respect to their operation, specific materials employed, work practices, equipment and regulatory obligations. It is imperative to verify current applicable regulatory requirements with state and/or local regulatory agencies.
Reprinted with permission from pneac.org/.