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Flexo Sustainable : Spring Summer 2009
FIGURE 4. Global warming potential. Water Emissions. Relative to the alternatives, the solvent- based ink system has the lowest critical waste water volume (6,533 L/CB), followed by the UV-cured alternative (7,204 L/CB), and lastly the water-based alternative, which has a critical waste water volume of about 7,545 L/CB. Again, it is the ink formulation processes that by far contribute the most to the critical waste water volume, particularly by way of chemical oxygen demand, ammonium-n, and chlorine. Solid Waste Generation. The water-based ink systems can reduce the amount of solid waste generation by nearly 46 percent compared to the UV-cured alternative and over a 13 percent reduction compared to the solvent-based alternative. The results specifically indicate that the chemical, mining, and municipal waste disposals during the ink production phase are the most significant contributors to the generation of solid waste over the production, use, and disposal phases of each of the printing ink systems. Raw Material Consumption. The water-based printing ink system uses the least amount of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas, and lignite) relative to the two other alternatives, although the UV-cured and water-based inks consume only a slightly greater amount, as is shown in Figure 6. It is clear from the figure that the solvent-based alternative consumes the largest amount of fossil fuels over the lifecycle. The total reduction of fossil fuel consumption for the water-based compared to solvent-based inks amounts to nearly 53 percent. FIGURE 6. Fossil fuel consumption. The key drivers for the fossil fuel consumption are mainly attributable to the significant oil, gas, and coal consumption rates required specifically during the ink production phase of each ink system. Toxicity Potential. Analyzing the overall toxicity potential regarding the lifecycle of printing inks finds that, as would be expected, water-based ink systems have the lowest toxicity potential, followed by UV-cured, and solvent-based systems with the highest potential, due primarily to the inherent toxicity of the solvent production and its precursors. It was found that the production, use, and disposal of a water-based ink results in a reduction of toxicity potential by over 46 percent compared to the solvent alternative and nearly a 33 percent reduction relative to the UV-cured system. Risk Potential. The lowest risk for worker accidents, fire and explosion hazards, and transportation during the production, use and disposal of 1,000 m2 of LDPE flexographic film results for the water-based ink system, followed by the solvent-based and UV-cured alternatives, as is shown in Figure 7. In fact, the water-based ink results in a reduction of risk potential by over 57 percent relative to the UV-cured alternative and more than a 41 percent reduction compared to the solvent system. It is also clear from Figure 7 that the electricity used during the curing phase is a key driver for each alternative, whereas the inherent risk involved in the transportation and ink pro- FIGURE 5. Acid rain potential. 14 Su s t a i n a b l e F LEXO FIGURE 7. Risk potential. S P R ING/SUMME R 20 0 9 www. f l e x oma g . c om