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Flexo Sustainable : End of Year 2008
in the large-scale removal of these metals from commercial usage in printing inks. For further information, see NPIRI Bulletin 08-05, Metals in Printing Inks. Toxic and carcinogenic chemicals Ink manufacturers, for the most part, use materials that are classified as non-toxic and non-carcinogenic according to the OSHA hazardous classification. Exceptions must be listed on the product MSDS. recycling of PrinTed ProducTs Most inks can be de-inked from printed paper so that the paper can be recycled to create fiber used to make more paper. When inks are printed on other substrates such as plastic films, rigid plastics, glass or metal, other recycling methods need to be utilized. regulaTory classificaTion of WasTe ink Hazardous waste is defined by the EPA under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations. Non-solvent waste ink that has not been contaminated with other pressroom materials is not considered a hazardous waste. Any ink waste containing solvents with a flash point of less than 100 degrees F would be classified as hazardous due to flammability. De-inking sludge from the recycling of printed materials would have the same classification. BiodegradaBiliTy sTaTus First, one must define biodegradability. ASTM has set forth the following definition: (from ASTM E1279-89) “.....The transformation of the test substance to an extent sufficient to remove some characteristic property of the molecule, resulting in the loss of detection by the chemical specific analytical technique, is referred to as primary biodegradation.” What this is really stating is that a product is deemed biodegradable if it is capable of undergoing biological anaerobic or aerobic decomposition into carbon dioxide, methane, water, and inorganic compounds, or biomass in which the predominant mechanism is the enzymatic reaction of microorganisms and is completed in a relatively short period of time. U.S. FTC CFR 16 Part 260, “Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims” states that claims of degradability, biodegradability or photodegradability should be qualified to the extent necessary to avoid consumer deception about: (1) the product or package’s ability to degrade in the environment where it is customarily disposed; and (2) the rate and extent of degradation. Further, the degradable, biodegradable or photodegradable status must be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature, i.e., decompose into elements found in nature within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal. www. f le xomag.com It is important to recognize that these biodegradability definitions would exclude the vast majority of commercially available chemicals. While there are individual printing ink components that meet the definitions, generally the mixture as a whole would not qualify as biodegradable. The ink industry position on biodegradability is as follows: It is important to recycle printed materials. Landfill disposal or incineration is an unnecessary waste of precious resources. Scientific research has demonstrated that very little biodegradability takes place in modern sanitary landfills due to the lack of exposure to air. Due to the small quantity of ink in relation to the much larger amount of substrate, ink has a minimal or negligible impact on biodegradability when printed materials go to landfills. Although this article attempts to be a comprehensive discus- sion of possible printing ink environmental impacts, its perspective is narrowly focused on the materials used in the ink. Clearly, there are factors other than ink composition that play a significant role in environmental impact. This would include sustainability based on lifecycle analysis of the materials, ink manufacturing and the printing process. These will be addressed in future reports. n ABOUT THE AUTHORS: George Fuchs has worked in the safety, health and environmental field for more than 20 years. He began his career with the Allied Chemical Corp. in Morristown, NJ in 1977. Between 1977 and 1988 he worked in a number of Allied’s business units including chemical toxicological research, TSCA compliance and laboratory safety. Between 1988 and 1991 Fuchs worked for the Pennwalt Corp. in King of Prussia, PA, where he was manager of safety, health and environmental compliance for the corporate research development laboratory. From 1991 to 1993, he was facilities/SHE manager for EniChem America’s North American operations. In 1993 he took his current post at the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) as manager of safety, health and environmental affairs and information systems. John Daugherty has a BS degree in chemistry and has worked in the printing ink and related industries for more than 30 years. He has held technical positions with Sun Chemical and Champion International (now part of International Paper) among others, and most recently worked as technical director of Kohl & Madden. Daugherty joined NAPIM in Oct. 2006 where he has been able to utilize his experience and knowledge for the benefit of the industry as managing director of technology. He is currently chairing the Ink Session at FFTA’s 2009 Annual Forum. Year end 2008 Sustainable FLEXO 15