Inks and Chemicals — Environmental Challenges
Extended producer responsibility and "beyond compliance" lifecycle thinking have become the focal points as the industry strives toward greater and greater environmental and social responsibility, according to Don Carli, principal of Nima Hunter and author of "Greening of Print," a series of studies that surveys and forecasts "how trends, behaviors and predispositions toward 'beyond compliance' environmental and sustainability practices by Global 2000 companies will impact the printing, publishing and packaging industries." Carli stresses looking past minimal regulatory standards and seek out "beyond compliance" solutions that are sustainable.
"There's a move away from the use of VOCs because of their contributions to global warming and to a variety of health problems in humans, including lung, liver and kidney damage," Carli states. "The general strategy is to come up with cleaner technologies—the reduction or elimination of VOCs. One way to deal with that is through the use of high solids content, UV curable. UV inks print extremely well but are not without their problems, because to cure the polymers a lot of energy is required to power the UV lamps. Photo-initiators, which are used, can pose health and safety risks."
"Another way to reduce VOCs is to employ aqueous inks or single fluid inks," he adds. "While such inks reduce the use of VOCs, there can be printability and runnability problems if rigorous process control is not observed. The flexo industry's been making a lot of efforts to improve the performance of aqueous inks and offset ink manufacturers have been working on single-fluid inks that reduce or eliminate the need for use of dampening solutions containing alcohol that can be washed up without the use of VOC-based solvents. In the solvents arena, there's a move away from petroleum distillates, toward the use of low- or no-VOC solvents derived from soy and citrus and other renewable resources.