Inks and Chemicals — Environmental Challenges
Ness believes there is an up side to the OSHA, EPA, etc., standards that can have a positive impact on overall ink manufacturing operations. "While there may be initial capital costs associated with the required improvements to keep and go beyond compliance, in the long run, these initial costs will more than pay for themselves in reduced workers' compensation costs, improved productivity/efficiency and reduced waste disposal costs," he says.
Customers often need help in understanding rules and regulations, with variations in how each printer interprets them, according to Jeff Behrens, research and development manager for RBP Chemical Technology. Providing them with chemicals that meet the state and local mandates can be equally challenging, since there is great variance in these edicts from region to region.
"SARA reportables such as ethylene-based glycols and glycol ethers have come under scrutiny, and reducing and/or eliminating them has become necessary," Behrens says. "Some things that have occurred is the dramatic reduction of VOC use in fountain solutions, use of lower vapor pressure type solvents in press washes—which helps reduce flammable and highly volatile cleaning solvents—and the use of safer chemicals to make the working environment safer. The standards have not really changed since the mid to late '90s when the Clean Air Laws/Act was implemented. New VOC regulations were implemented at this time and impacted everybody. The list for SARA reportables continues to get larger, and other minor regulations continue to be implemented on a more local and regional basis. With this we continue to update MSDSs on a yearly basis.
"The changes in the '90s had the biggest impact on how the products were produced and sold. Changes in the MSDSs, the VOC content of products (fountain solutions and washes), getting away from SARA reportables, have all impacted on what we put into our products and how we make and sell them," he adds.