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Flexo Sustainable : Spring Summer 2009
Advantages to water, as cited by Postle, were regulatory volatile organic compound emissions, environmental impact, solvent retention, visual properties, and health and safety concerns. His conclusion: “For most applications, water is a viable candidate. It can decrease the environmental impact, while still providing the same quality dry film that your packaging customer deserves.” Postle made one additional observation, which spoke directly to subjects raised by his fellow panelists. “As line speeds increase and applications become more demanding, water-based solutions will continue to be viable.” GREEN GAUGES Printability, sustainability and the all-important link between the two, dominated discussion, with the focal point being substrates; the time span stretching across two full hours; and a total of six speakers expressing their perspectives. Environmental consciousness came into clear view for Forum delegates on hand for the Substrate Session on Tuesday, May 5 at 8 a.m. Session chairs Paul Kearns and Marc Edlein set things in motion as they explained, “A good substrate is the building block to great printing.” Elaborating on the point, they indicated that a package’s function is fourfold: contain, protect, preserve and communicate. Advances in substrates, particularly the technical elements of the paper board and films, they argued will have a profound effect on printers/converters abilities to meet and exceed customer expectations. Most notable is the growing demand for green alternatives and the flexibility, innovation and dedication required to go green and establish much more earth-friendly printing plants. Malcolm Keif, a professor at California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, CA, told listeners that polylactic acid (corn-based) has been the subject of significant interest in recent years. It’s been converted into packaging films and marketed as a compostable, carbon-neutral, renewable resource. Keif reported that Cal-Poly research showed that printability of PLA appeared comparable to other common flexible packaging films. Providing details and documentation, he indicated that measurements of several variables, namely: dyne, dot gain, tone, density, type, dot shape, gloss, rub resistance, tensile strength and clean print, produced an average score of 2.36 for white PLA ,while clear PLA tallied a score of 2.64. This compared to 2.64 for PET, 3.09 for OPP and 3.82 for OPS. Keif observed that research on the PLA front is destined to continue. Questions to resolve include: •What are the ramifications of sourcing corn for non-food products? •What is the impact on the world’s food supply? • Are the environmental benefits minimized when PLA is co-extruded or hybridized with other plastics? Continuing to speak to sustainable substrate options, Nilesh Savargaonkar, Dow Chemical, stated, “Packaging does not create waste, packaging helps prevent waste.” After issuing what some saw as a startling claim, he explained the thought behind it. “A lightweight package is a flexible package and flexible packaging by nature reduces post consumer waste landfill discharge, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption at the point of manufacture.” Savargaonkar proceeded to compare and contrast the flexible pouch with other container options across the three prominent environmental concerns. Landfill discharge can be reduced by 96 percent when substituting a flexible pouch for a glass bottle. Similarly greenhouse gas emissions drop by 87 percent and energy consumption in production is decreased by 81 percent. Replacing a box with a pouch, the statistics remain impressive. Landfill discharge drops by 68 percent, gas emissions are cut by 69 percent and energy consumption falls 23 percent. Looking to the future and the current efforts developing to “Change the game for the ethylene value chain,” Savargaonkar pointed to the fact that LLDPE can, and will be made from sugarcane. Marie A. Dumontier, Fraser Papers, stressed, “Calculating a plant’s carbon footprint demonstrates environmental leadership.” She also said, it serves as a point of differentiation from the competition and at the same time, sends a clear message to green-minded CPCs and environmentally conscious consumers. That message: Demands are being heard. Actions are being taken. Kearns summarized what was said, as he offered the fol- lowing take-aways from Forum 2009’s Substrate Session. • Carbon will affect your financial future. • Be careful when comparing data. • Understand how substrates perform. • Experiment and study before moving forward. THE ECO-EXPERIENCE Although addressed in detail in both the Ink and Substrate Sessions, the topic of sustainability was, once again, a focus of an entire series of presentations at Forum 2009. The Sustainability Session, chaired by Allen Marquardt of Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Doreen M. Monteleone of FTA, included six industry experts speaking on technologies and techniques that could be implemented to improve a printer’s sustainability performance throughout a flexo facility. Taking place on Tuesday, May 5 at 10:30 a.m., it was stressed throughout that every printing facility is unique and each has to examine its particular operation to determine the best approaches to sustainability. Ian Hole of EskoArtwork presented guidelines to strengthen flexo’s sustainability performance in packaging design, prepress and platemaking 4 Su s t a i n a b l e F LEXO S P R ING/SUMME R 20 0 9 www. f l e x oma g . c om