With advances in technology and availability of new products, the printing industry has made substantial progress toward the use of less hazardous materials. Many points of pollution still exist throughout the prepress, press, and postpress processes however and commercial printshops need to consider how to reduce air emissions, dispose or recycle hazardous waste properly, and handle industrial wastewater.
Pollution prevention (P2) strategies keep the community safe, reduce costs (such as those associated with waste disposal and wastewater compliance) and are good for businesses! What are some specific challenges commercial printers face in pollution prevention?
Potential Contaminants to Groundwater
Materials have the potential to be spilled both before, during, and after the printing process. It is important to keep in mind initial storage solutions and waste disposal management as part of your pollution prevention strategies to keep printing operation chemicals out of the groundwater supply.
Hazardous materials could include photo processing and plate making materials, fountain solutions, cleaning solvents and solutions, press and lubricating oils, ink contaminated with solvent, film/plate processing wastewater, or coatings and adhesives. These are just a few examples and others exist, especially related to toxic air emissions.
WHAT CAN I DO AT MY PLACE OF BUSINESS TO HELP PROTECT GROUNDWATER?
While some strategies can be more complex, here are a few easy to implement tips for reducing hazardous waste and preventing spills that are applicable to commercial printers.
- Dedicate presses to specific colors or special inks to decrease the number of cleanings required for each press.
- Use filter bags to remove paper dust and ink particulates in the fountain solution recirculation tank.
- Squeegee or wipe equipment surfaces clean before washing with solvent to decrease the amount of solvent used.
- Use organic solvent alternatives wherever possible, such as detergent or soap, nonhazardous blanket washes, and less toxic acetic acid solvents. Talk to your suppliers about substituting non-hazardous chemicals and films to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated.
- Inspect all materials delivered to ensure damaged or unacceptable materials are not in your inventory.
- Properly store materials to ensure recommended shelf life and remember to keep inventory on a “first in, first-out” rotation.
- Look for recycling opportunities for paper waste, empty ink containers, spoiled film or paper, or expired materials. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) funds the Indiana Materials Exchange that facilitates recycling and reuse of industrial/commercial wastes. This publication lists available and wanted materials—and it is free! Contact IDEM at 800 968-8764 for more information.
Another important practice is to train all employees on spill prevention and containment and to keep your emergency response and spill response prevention plan in an easily accessible and known location.
How have other companies reduced costs through P2 practices?
In addition to detailed information for printers on all areas of pollution preventing in the printshop, the Compliance and Pollution Prevent Guidebook for Indiana Printers provides several case studies of how companies have reduced costs through P2 practices.
In one facility the company reduced its press cleaning solvent wastes by using squirt bottles instead of rag plunger cans and diluting the blanket wash with water (approximately 10%). This resulted in lower blanket wash use, saving the printer 4-6 drums of blanket wash annually. The printer could also downgrade its LQG generator status to a SQG and reduced the shop’s hazardous waste management requirements.
Read more in the guidebook.
Additional Resources and Assistance
In the last few years, changes to Indianapolis zoning codes and Marion County health ordinances have likely affect your business operations by mandating certain Best Management Practices (BMPs) that were previously voluntary. There are many resources and face-to-face help to assist you in preventing pollution and complying with these and other federal guidelines.
- Review the resources from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management specifically for printing.
- Review our resource page for helpful videos, websites, and signs for your business.
- Contact us for a free business assessment or help on developing your spill plan.