Fact Sheet


Office of Technical Assistance

Executive Office of Environmental Affairs

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Toxics Use Reduction Case Study



F.C. Meyer Company, a Lawrence Massachusetts cardboard box manufacturer and printer, has trained its employees in "good housekeeping" practices and significantly reduced ink wastes and wastewater generated when cleaning the printing presses. The improved washing practices include draining and scraping as much ink as possible before washing and minimizing the amount of water used. Most of the ink wash water is now used to dilute concentrated virgin black ink. The decrease in wash water and the reuse of ink wastewater have resulted in a 90 percent savings in waste disposal as well as reduced costs for raw materials.


F.C. Meyer employs 200 people and has eight printing presses and operates three shifts a day, five days a week. The company uses a flexographic printing process with rubber printing plates.

In 1989, F.C. Meyer switched from solvent-based inks to water-based inks, and reduced its VOC emissions from 280 tons per year to less than 1,000 pounds per year. Performance quality was unchanged and the regulatory workload was reduced substantially. In 1992, F.C. Meyer began to seek further waste reduction opportunities and looked at the pees cleaning procedures. Presses must be cleaned every time the ink is changed. The bulk of the ink contained in the bins and on other parts of the press is poured back into the ink container. The remaining ink was washed off with water-soaked rags and the waste water was put in 55 gallon drums and, before the ink change, taken away by a hazardous waste contractor at $100 per drum. Before implementation of the waste reduction program the company generated 10 drums of hazardous waste a week, now it generates one to two drums a week of nonhazardous waste.


F.C. Meyer decided that reduction of the volume of water used in cleaning process could be achieved by training workers to use the least amount of water possible. The new washing procedures include draining as much ink as possible back into the containers and thorough scraping of excess ink off the press parts before any water is added, and then using as little water as possible.

In addition to reducing the volume of wash water used, the company asked its supplier to deliver black ink 10%reduced water content. Wastewater is added to the black ink with no apparent effect on the color quality of the ink. The wastewater can also be added to other colors, such as grey, in smaller amounts than when addedto black ink.


Reductions Achieved: Modifying the press cleanup procedure reduced the solids in spent washwater from mon than 30 percentto 13 percent. The volume ofwater used also has decreased by 35 per~nt. Approximately one pint ofwater is now used each time a press is washed.

By reusing most of the washwater, the amount of waste which had to be disposed has decreased from ten to one to two 55-gallon drums per week.

Economics: The 55 gallon drums of waste cost approximately $100 each to dispose. Implementing the reuse of ink wastewater has reduced the yearly cost of waste disposal fiom about $52,000 to $5,200.

This Case Study is one of a series of such documents prepared by the Office of Technical Assistance for Toxics Use Reduction (OTA), a branch of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs whose mission is to assist industry in reducing the use of toxic chemicals and/or the generation of toxic manufacturing byproducts. OTA’s non-regulatory services are available at no charge to Massachusetts business and institutions that use toxic chemicals. For further information about this or other case studies, or about OTA’s technical services, contact: Office of Technical Assistance, Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, Suite 2109, 100 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA, 02202, (617) 727-3260, Fax (617) 727-3827.

For more detailed information about pollution prevention opportunities in the printing industry visit the PNEAC web site at call the PNEAC toll free number at 1-888-USPNEAC, or contact :

Graphic Arts Technical Foundation - Gary Jones or Rick Hartwig (412.741.6860)

Printing Industries of America - Ben Cooper (703.519.8115)

Illinois Waste Management and Research Center - Gary Miller (217/333-8940) or Debra Jacobson (630.472.5019)

University of Wisconsin - Wayne Pferdehirt (608.265.2361), Keith West (920/465-2940) or Bob Gifford (608.262.1083)

Reasonable effort has been made to review and verify information in this document. Neither PNEAC and its partners, nor the technical reviewers and their agencies, assume responsibility for completeness and accuracy of the information, or its interpretation. The reader is responsible for making the appropriate decisions with respect to their operation, specific materials employed, work practices, equipment and regulatory obligations.  It is imperative to verify current applicable regulatory requirements with state and/or local regulatory agencies.


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