Posts Tagged ‘Laurel Brunner’

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Laurel Brunner

    The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

    This is the fourth part of a series of blogs suggesting ideas for topics addressed in environmental policy statements. Industry associations serving the needs of journalists, illustrators, designers, authors, publishers, printers and so on are largely passive when it comes to improving environmental impacts. In the previous blogs we’ve considered the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, emissions controls and management and waste handling. But how about materials usage and considering what’s required to produce a given print product and its recycling?

    In the newspaper business, which uses newsprint, this is an easy consideration because most newsprint is made from recycled papers. Paper and board recycling should be a no-brainer for any industry association’s mission statement. Another material to consider would be the printing plates, for instance used aluminium or flexo plates. Aluminium plates are a ready source of income for printing companies across the industry, since they can be sold for recycling.

    But recycling the photopolymer used to make flexo plates used in newspaper printing, packaging and other applications is a little trickier, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Some manufacturers, such as Flint Group and DuPont offer a recycling service, but you have to pay for it and the waste is generally incinerated rather than being reprocessed into something useful. Far better is to find ways of reusing the material, for instance as chippings to cover horse arenas and playing fields, or as a building material. The trick is to find and work with organisations that can use the used flexo plates without reprocessing them back into their component materials or burning them. This is another opportunity for industry associations to make recommendations or set up partnerships with companies who can build suitable recycling supply chains.

    The English have a saying that “where there’s muck there’s brass”, meaning that waste (the muck) is a source of revenue (the brass). Printing plates are already earning their users and manufacturers money through recycling. Innovation and entrepreneurialism can take ideas for reusing plate materials in other ways, to use them in other viable new businesses, based on improving environmental impact and profit. Invention starts with little, tiny things, so maybe printing and publishing industry policy statements will help create small germs of opportunity. Industry associations are ideally placed to kick start new ideas for reducing environmental impact through improved waste handling, from paper to plates. But it takes awareness of the problem before ways of solving it can be worked out.

     

    – 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 Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

  • UV-curing inks can double plate use: Brunner

    UV-curing inks can mess with the printing plates and compromise run lengths, sometimes cutting plate durability very substantially, writes printing industry sustainability consultant Laurel Brunner.

    ‘Not an entirely rosy picture’: Laurel Brunner, MD Digital Dots.

    It seems so simple, you invest in new technology that’s got a lower carbon footprint and you’re making a more sustainable choice. And achieving a lower carbon footprint is a lot to do with why companies invest in upgraded digital presses, new computer-to-plate systems and even processless plates, such as Kodak’s Sonora. But what are the knock-on environmental effects of new, more sustainable technologies? It’s a problem not only for technology investments, but for everything we do that is intended to be environmentally friendly.

    In the case of UV-curing litho presses, which generally have interstation curing, the on-press chemistry can vary and this has to be accounted for in environmental impact evaluations. Litho presses have used UV curing for longer than pretty much any other printing method. The science is well-advanced for both web and sheet fed presses and such presses produce many applications on many different substrates. UV-curing litho presses are generally more expensive to own and run than conventional offset presses, but they are considered to have solid advantages that translate into improved margins. Drying is instant with UV curing inks so there are no delays prior to finishing, which can mean a two-to-three-days saving compared to prints printed with oil based inks. UV cured inks stick to pretty much anything and there are virtually no VOC emissions associated with them, so no additional venting is required in the press hall. The prints can be of very high quality and be resistant to mechanical degradation and chemicals. But it’s not an entirely rosy picture.

    UV inks behave very differently compared to conventional oil-based inks, so every production component has to be compatible, including fountain solution and the printing plate. If any of the settings on press are set to run conventional rollers and blankets say or minders use conventional cleaning materials, things can quickly go awry. On press chemistries that are incompatible with UV-curing inks can mess with the printing plates and compromise run lengths, sometimes cutting plate durability very substantially. With hybrid presses, press maintenance and process control is even more important. Some printers we have heard from have experienced a noticeable loss of quality on the plates and have had to replace them after a few thousand impressions. For a job that’s 10,000 impressions long, that’s twice as many plates, and for a run length of 40,000 it’s four times as many adding a load of cost for not much gain.

    This obviously has a severely negative environmental impact as well as a severely negative margin impact. It means more plates, more processing chemistry, more stopping and starting the press for plate changeovers, and additional energy emissions. The moral here is to consider the environmental benefits of a given technology in the wider context of overall system environmental impact and to adjust things so that you optimise both the technology and its environmental impact.

    – 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 Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.