Virtual Flexo Plant

Production Waste


Production waste ultimately affects the bottom line of a company in a negative fashion. Waste should first be minimized by looking at where it is generated and identifying ways to reduce or eliminate it.

Recycling should be a secondary solution to waste management. Although recycling diverts materials from the landfills and reduces the use of virgin resources, it still costs the company in the amount of money necessary to purchase the material and if the waste has no value, the amount of money required to dispose of it. There is also a cost to the environment in terms of the use of raw materials and energy necessary to manufacture the input material.

Waste is eliminated through a variety of good manufacturing processes such as quality systems, equipment specifications (layouts, equipment maintenance, etc.), employee training; clear customer communication, and input material substitution. These and other pollution prevention measures will help increase profitability through waste minimization.

Wastes that cannot be completely eliminated through engineering and controls should be recycled in-house if possible. If this is not possible, the material should be recycled off-site. The last resort in the life cycle of an input material should be disposal into a landfill.

Best Management Practices & Pollution Prevention

Paper Waste:

All types of scrap paper are usually in demand for recycling by paper manufactures and recyclers throughout the country. If the scrap paper is in short supply, the paper manufacturer, broker, or recycler that takes the scrap will pay the printer. The amount that the printer will get paid will fluctuate depending on the current paper market. However, it is important to remember that paper costs more in its virgin form than what it is worth as scrap. Therefore, measures need to be taken to reduce the amount of virgin paper that becomes scrap.

Ink Waste:

Waste ink can be reduced be re-blending and reuse of inks. For more information see the “Press Return Ink” section of the Virtual Litho Plant.

Fountain Solution:

In-line filters on recirculating units can be used to reduce or eliminate the need to discharge or dispose of fountain solution prematurely.

Blanket Wash Waste: Waste blanket wash is usually a hazardous waste that requires special handling and disposal. Changing the frequency of blanket washing, reducing the volume of blanket wash used, and training operators on proper cleaning intervals and quantities can help to greatly reduce the amount of waste blanket wash generated. Additionally, automatic blanket washing systems are often more consistent and use a controlled amount of cleaning solution, compared with hand washing by operators. Another option is impregnated cloth blanket wash systems that consist of cloths that are prefilled with the proper amount of blanket wash. These systems can also help to reduce liquid blanket wash waste, however, waste cloths may still be hazardous wastes and will have to be evaluated to determine if there are hazardous waste prior to disposal.

Other Cleaning Solvents:

Use the least amount of cleaning solvent necessary for the job, so that no waste solvent is generated. For more information, see the “Shop Towels” and “Distillation Unit” sections of the Virtual Litho Plant.

Product and Equipment Monitoring:

During press operation, product rejects can be minimized by automated monitoring technologies that monitor press performance. Inspection devices detect flaws in the print job and reduce the amount of unacceptable print. Inspection devices detect spotting, streaking, misregistration and inconsistent ink coverage, among myriad other on-press mishaps.

Web inspection involves a series of "electronic eyes" installed at strategic locations along the press line that are designed to detect tears or breaks in the web of substrate as it passes through the web press. This reduces the likelihood that a broken web will wrap around the rollers and force them out of their bearings, causing extensive damage to the press. While web break detectors are primarily used to avoid severe damage to the presses, they also reduce the waste that would be generated if the web breaks.

For access to vendors who may supply alternative materials and equipment, see the PNEAC Vendor Directory.

Environmental Regulations

Any hazardous waste generated during production must be handled according to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and application DOT hazardous waste regulations. For more information see the “Hazardous Waste” section of the Virtual Litho Plant.

Health & Safety

Trim scrap and other small pieces of printed substrate commonly accumulate underneath finishing equipment. Clean this material regularly in order to prevent equipment malfunction due to material getting caught in moving parts of the machine, as well as potential fire hazards.