How green is your printing press?

At Ipex, everyone professed the importance of environment. PrintWeek India speaks to two green experts in order to understand how to cut down energy use and reduce carbon emissions

08 Jun 2010 | By PrintWeek India

Global Warming and its consequences
Chris Searle, TechNova India

One of the suggested major causes of global warming is the build-up of green house gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. GHGs act as a blanket, preventing the dissipation of heat back into space and thus causing the temperature of the atmosphere to increase, and leading to global warming. Carbon Dioxide (CO2), a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, is one of the most important greenhouse gasses.

Trees and other plants act as major stores of carbon and play a vital role in reducing the harmful effects of fossil fuel consumption. However, the rate at which we are cutting down our forests is destroying our best protection in the battle against global warming.

Currently, only 15% of global energy supplies are from clean ‘renewable' carbon-neutral sources. However, this must change, as non-renewable sources of energy are by definition, finite.

It is estimated that 60% of all renewable sources of energy have been used up in the last two hundred years. Currently the rate of consumption is still accelerating, and we therefore need to start utilising our energy sources far more efficiently.

One way of measuring energy efficiency is to measure the ‘Energy Intensity' (EI). It is defined as energy consumption per unit of GDP. For the developed world this ratio is less than 1.0. For India, it is 1.5 times the average of the developed world, and 3.7 times that of Japan!

Another parameter used to measure the environment impact is carbon footprint. The carbon footprint of a product is the sum total of the CO2 that is released during the entire production, consumption and disposal cycle of a product.
Carbon credits are a key component of national and international emissions trading schemes that have been implemented to mitigate global warming. The maximum emission limit of every business is set based on the baseline consumption less 25% emission cut by a specified date.
At the Copenhagen Summit in 2009, India made a voluntary commitment to cut its carbon intensity, i.e. the amount of carbon dioxide released per unit of GDP by 25% by 2025, as compared to 2005 levels. India is currently the fifth largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world.

However, since we have one sixth of the world's population, our emissions per capita are currently low.

Nevertheless, India's rapid development is set to make it a very significant contributor to global carbon dioxide output. Keeping this in mind, it is evident that sooner or later, legislation pertaining to environmental policies may soon be introduced, and enforced stringently, forcing companies to reduce their carbon footprint.

Companies exporting to the US and the EU may also be required to operate ISO 14000 environmental management programs.

Environmental compatible printing
Prof Rajendrakumar Anayath, Print Media Academy

The first step towards the solution is to ‘go green'. Going green will enable companies to comply with forthcoming legislation and will allow them to do business with clients who demand green compliance from their suppliers. Early adopters of a green strategy will find it a powerful marketing tool and if experience in the EU and US is anything to go by, will improve their bottomline.

Carbon dioxide emissions by the offset printing industry arise from the consumption of energy; the use of chemicals and from the disposal of liquid and solid waste products. Today, TechNova is committed to help the print industry ‘go green' by promoting green awareness within TechNova, and within the Indian print industry.

A printing press consumes energy, paper, produces waste water and emissions during its lifetime. What do you think about the most important factor regarding their environmental impact? Certainly it‘s paper. No matter if you focus on CO2 emissions or on pure mass flows. Reducing paper waste should be the environmental choice number one for a printer. Just to give you an idea: a printing press which runs three-shifts, 250 days a year. During this time an average of 36 millions sheets are produced per year. To produce 4300 tons of paper; it causes 290 tons of CO2 due to energy consumption during three shifts of 250 days.

Another important constituent for a printer in environmental concern is ink. Then comes the VOCs (variety of alcohols in use), waste water and powder emissions.

It is interesting to know what Heidelberg is doing to cut paper wastage on its machines. They have developed innovations which reduce paper wastage. The first important component in Prinect is the Prinect Prepress Interface which allows you to preset the machine especially the ink keys by using the already available job data from the pre-press department. In every job this saves at least four minutes and 100 sheets of paper. In a typical print shop with the machine in question running five days three shifts, this is equal to a saving of 1,75,000 sheets per year.

To highlight the environmental dimension: 735 trees will be saved. This means, CO2 emission of 50 tons will be prevented. With Prinect Color Assistant, the operator can save and adjust specific curves for each individual combination of substrate and paper. When there is an okay sheet the operator can press the button and the system will adjust and optimise its settings for this specific ink substrate combination. After a few months, the print shop will have a sophisticated database with presetting data for its use. Combined with a colour measurement device such as Prinect AxisControl or Image Control, this can save up to six minutes of setup time and 150 sheets per job.

Per annum, this is equivalent to a saving of 1095 trees or a reduction of 75 tons of CO2 emissions. Prinect Inpress Control, the inline measurement device for perfect colours is a device working inside of the press and without pulling a test sheet. Savings are significant that is another four minutes and up to another 150 waste sheets. This is equivalent to 1095 trees or 75 tons of CO2 per year. Combining all of this means the saving of 400 sheets per job or 2,920 trees or 200 tons of CO2 per year.

The second VOC emitter is the alcohol in the dampening water. Quite often, we read news about presses running with zero per cent alcohol and there are several machines already in the market doing the same. These presses in the market are able to run stable without extra costs and with nearly all jobs with three or four per cent of alcohol.

Then there is the issue of waste water which is 3,200 litres for the above press. How can we reduce it?

With a sophisticated dampening filtration system in the new machines ensures constant quality of the water and is an absolute pre-requisite.

Powder contamination is not only an health issue but has also a high influence on the productivity of a machine. Especially, if you run a job twice through the press. Unnecessary powder surplus on the sheets will force you to stop the press regularly and wash of the blankets.

The part of the powder which does not hit the sheet can be exhausted with the CleanStar. The machine in study has an extra brush to clean the grippers and chains and several more exhaust devices which encircle the pile and ensure that nearly no powder escapes to the outside. The new CleanStar makes sure that no powder can build up in critical areas and can fall onto the pile.