Web offset production is a complex flow of raw material inputs, some of which incur waste during production, plus an output of the finished job – along with other liquid and solid waste.
Reduction of process waste is economically important as energy prices have hit the roof and are unlikely to return to previous levels; the costs of water and waste disposal are climbing; and most raw materials have increased in cost.
Waste is often seen as valueless but its recycling/re-use value can be much higher than the cost of its disposal – it includes all materials and packaging used in the production process.
One of the guide's key findings is that an environmental policy integrated into a manufacturing strategy has compelling business advantages. These include the opportunity to reduce costs, increase competitiveness, become more innovative and enhance staff and customer confidence, whilst avoiding the potentially expensive risks of non-compliance.
In many cases, companies may also qualify for funding opportunities, tax incentives and reduced insurance premiums. In addition, environmentally aware printers benefit from an increasingly positive brand value perception, particularly as more and more of their customers are adopting third-party certified Corporate Social Responsibility reporting.
Businesses that take only a minimum compliance approach miss all of these opportunities and have a higher risk of fines and remedial costs.
"For this guide, we have been able to draw from the resources and experience of Quad/Graphics who have implemented pro-active environmental programmes that are economically effective," says Randall Freeman, vice president of Business Development of QuadTech and a member of WOCG.
There is significant scope to reduce the toxicity and volume of chemistry in the offset printing process. This includes alcohol-free fountain solutions, vegetable cleaning agents and inks, and a new generation of virtually process-free plates.
Computer hardware and software have already played critical roles in finding non-chemical prepress alternatives. Good maintenance is also environmentally important because it helps reduce energy, waste, cleaning materials and noise, plus it facilitate health and safety compliance.
Environmental legislation began in the United States in the late 1960s, followed by Japan, Europe and Australia, and now extends to China, Asia and South America.
Nations at the 30th G8 Summit reaffirmed their commitment to sustainable development and approved the 3R initiative to encourage reduction of waste, reuse and recycling, along with the duty of care regarding all waste.
Although this is a global trend, there are at local, national and international levels significant variations in laws, definitions and classifications. This means that there is no single compliance formula for the best, most cost effective sustainable solution for environmental performance.
"The goal of this guide is to provide both a global overview of the environment and practical examples that can help companies implement effective actions," adds Nigel Wells, WOCG's managing editor.
"Sharing information of what is happening in different parts of the world helps identify best practices that can be adapted to improve environmental and business performance."
The latest Web Offset Champion Group best practice guide can be obtained from the Web Offset Champion Group's official web site or from any of the group's members: Aylesford Newsprint, Kodak, MacDermid Printing Solutions, MAN Roland, MEGTEC, Muller Martini, Nitto Denko, QuadTech, SCA or Sun Chemical.