A Cooperative Project
between the
U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency
and the
Printing Trade
 June 1997
                                                                        FLEXOGRAPHY PROJECT CASE STUDY 2
• Facilities' Experiences in
 Achieving VOC Emissions

• Lessons Learned
• Planning Ahead to Avoid
 Regulatory Pressure

• The Important Role of Ink
 Suppliers and Trade Associations
                     Learning  From Three Companies
                 That Reduced VOC Emissions
This case study presents the steps that three wide web flexographic printers took
to reduce their VOC emissions. Their experiences may help you plan a successful
reduction of your VOC emissions. This case study presents:

       =*> factors considered in management decisions and how the decisions

          were implemented

       =* the two methods tried: switching to Water-based Inks,

          and installing an OXJdJZer

The Goals: Compliance and Reducing VOC Emissions

Three printers volunteered to participate in this case study: Emerald Packaging
in Union City, California; Packaging Specialties in Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Firm X
(this company requested anonymity) in New York. All three flexographers made
changes in their ink systems to reduce VOC emissions, primarily to comply with
VOC regulations. However, while all three printers shared a similar motivation,
the timing of their decisions varied.

Emerald Packaging believed that VOC regulations would eventually become more

stringent. Even though Emerald Packaging was not faced with immediate regulatory
pressure, the company took a proactive approach to reduce VOC emissions.

Packaging Specialties, however, faced immediate compliance pressure from the state

regulatory agency. The company needed to reduce their VOC emissions in a very

short period of time.
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1 Main  product:
 i"   Produce packaging
 1               f1      '
 Current primary ink:
     Water-based ink
 Current primary substrate:

 Packaging Specialties
 Fayettet'ttte, Arkansas

 85 Employees
 Annual sales:
     $15-20 million
 Main  product:
     Food and beverage
 Current primary ink:
     Solvent-based ink
 Current primary substrates:
     Polyvinyl chloride (PVC),
     polyethylene, and Cryovac
New York

50 Employees
Annual sales:
    S20-30 million
Main product:
    Pattern-coated polyolefin
Current primary ink:
    Water-based ink
Current primary substrates:
    Film and paper

Q Design far the Environment
                                       Like Packaging Specialties, Firm X had to comply with existing regulations within
                                       a reasonable time period. However, Firm X was not faced with the same
                                       immediate pressure.

                                       The Options Considered
                                       Each of the three companies considered two options for reducing VOCs:

                                              =£>  install an oxidizer
                                              =£-  replace solvent-based inks with water-based inks
                                       All three companies decided that the best option for them was to switch to
                                       water-based inks, based on several factors.  They believed:

                                              =£>  The capital cost of a water-based ink system would be lower than the
                                                   capital cost of installing an oxidizer.
                                              =»  Water-based  inks would have lower energy costs than an oxidizer.
                                              =^>  In the event of a facility move or expansion, water-based inks would be
                                                   a more cost-effective choice over the long run.
                                       Making the Change
EMERALD  PACKAGING first started using water-based inks in 1988. Working
with their ink supplier, the company researched different inks using trial and error.
Emerald Packaging converted from solvent-based inks to water-based inks over the
course of four years. By 1992, the company used water-based inks on all its presses.
When Emerald was using solvent-based inks and two presses, the company emitted
over 50 tons of VOCs a year.  Today, using water-based, inks on four presses,
Emerald emits between 14 and 15 tons of VOCs per year.

PACKAGING SPECIALTIES emitted 702 tons ofVOCs in 1989, exceeding
permitted levels. The immediate regulatory requirements did not leave Packaging
Specialties very much time or flexibility for experimenting with water-based inks.
The company switched to water-based inks on all of their flexo presses. However,
Packaging Specialties could not develop a water-based ink that would print successfully
on polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or Cryovac, two of the company's primary substrates.
Customers complained, and up to 5% of all finished products were returned.  After 14
months of trying the water-based inks, Packaging Specialities installed an oxidizer and
went back to using solvent-based inks. With the oxidizer and 100% room capture,
the company reduced annual VOC emissions by approximately 95% and now
emits between 35 and 40 tons of VOCs per year.

FIRM X first attempted to switch to water-based inks in 1990, but the results were
disappointing. In 1992, the company tried again. It contacted 14 ink manufacturers
to find a suitable water-based ink.  Firm X also hired a consultant knowledgeable about
printing technology and environmental compliance. Unlike Emerald Packaging and

Packaging Specialties, Firm X was not producing packaging.  Its substrates required
a matte finish, so the company did not have to worry about gloss. With the help
of their ink supplier and consultant, Firm X successfully converted from solvent-
based inks to water-based inks within nine months.  Firm X currently emits less
than half of their permitted level of 25 tons  of VOCs per year.

Lessons Learned
PUAN  YOUR VOC REDUCTIONS NOW. Emerald Packaging and Firm X
found that planning ahead gave them enough time to successfully phase-in water-
based inks. If facilities do not plan ahead, they may not have enough time to research
and optimize the process. Such facilities often find the transition to water-based
inks difficult or unsuccessful. By taking action to reduce VOCs, your company
can make an efficient and successful change.  Remember, regardless of what the
regulations are, reducing VOCs will always benefit worker health and the environ-
ment in your community.

CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS. These three facilities reduced VOC emissions
by switching to water-based inks or installing an oxidizer. Consider your options
for reducing VOC emissions at your facility.  Ultraviolet-cured coating and ink
technologies are drawing attention for their low-VOC applications. Also, think about
other sources of VOCs in your facility, such as cleaning agents.  Through materials
substitution and reduced overall use, these VOCs can be reduced as well.

        ^  Ink suppliers played an important role in the successful development
            of water-based inks at Emerald Packaging and Firm X. Initially, the
            water-based inks at these companies did not dry  quickly enough, and
            the ink density was unsatisfactory. Through close cooperation, both
            companies and their ink suppliers were able to develop inks that
            printed successfully.  In addition, both Emerald and Firm X modified
            press equipment and drying systems to improve print quality.

            Packaging Specialties also worked closely •with their ink supplier,
            but they could not develop a successful water-based ink. In fact,
            management could not find any ink supplier that had successfully
            printed water-based inks on PVC or Cryovac.

        =^>  Trade associations are valuable resources for printers trying to
            reduce VOC emissions. The California Film Extruders and Converters
            Association (CFECA) gave Emerald Packaging information and feedback
            from other members. The Flexographic Technical Association (FTA)
            provided Firm X with up-to-date information about different
            ink technologies.
   Reductions In
  VOC  Emissions
  units are in tons of VOCs per year
      Emerald Packaging
      Before 1991      1995
    Packaging Specialties
        1990        1995

Partners in the DIE Flexography
Project Include: California Film
Extruders and Converters
Association (CFECA), Flexible
Packaging Association (FPA),
Flexographlc Technical Association
OTA), Industrial Technology
Institute Cm), National Association
of Printing Ink Manufacturers
(NAPOO, Plastic Bag Association
(PBA), RadTcch International, N.A.,
National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST), Tag and tabel
Manufacturers Institute, Inc. (TIAEQ,
University of Tennessee (UT),
Western Michigan University
CWMtl), and individual printers
and suppliers.
S Design fix ths Environment
                                                  =^  Experienced consultants are another source of help. A consultant
                                                      knowledgeable about printing technology and environmental compliance
                                                      was instrumental in the successful switch to water-based inks at Firm X.

                                                  =£•  Oxidizer suppliers can also be a valuable resource. When water-based
                                                      inks didn't work for Packaging Specialties, an oxidizer supplier helped
                                                      install a catalytic oxidizer and 100% capture system.

                                         For More Information
                                         The information in this case study was taken from the report, Pollution Prevention
                                         Experiences in Three Flexographtc Printing Facilities (EPA 744-R-96-001), prepared
                                         for U.S. EPA by the Center for Business and Environmental Studies at California State
                                         University, Hayward. See the box below for ordering information.
About the Design for the Environment Flexography Project

The goal of the Design for the Environment (DfE) Flexography Project is to provide flexographers
with information that can help them design an operation which is more environmentally sound,
safer for workers, and more cost effective.

The partners of the DfE Flexography Project, in a voluntary cooperative effort, are evaluating
three different ink technologies: solvent, water-based, and UV-cured. Information is being
gathered on the performance, cost, and health and environmental risk trade-offs of several
inks within each technology.
hi addition to the Flexography Project, similar DfE projects are currently
underway with both the screen printing and lithography industries.
Mention of trade names, companies, or commercial products does not constitute endorsement
or recommendation for use by either the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or other firms,
organizations, or individuals who have participated in the preparation of this publication.
  To obtain additional copies of this or other bulletins and case studies, or for more information
  about EPA's Design for the Environment Program, contact:
                  EPA's Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (PPIC)
                                        U.S. EPA
                                 401 M Street, SW (7409)
                                  Washington, DC 20460
                                                      E-mail: ppic@epamail.epa.gov
                                                      DfE Web page: http://es.inel.gov/dfe
     Phone: (202) 260-1023
     Fax: (202) 260-4659
                                          Printed on paper that contains at least 50% recycled fiber.