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FLEXO Magazine : November 2008
FIGURE 1: Flow Diagram: Flexographic Cradle-to-Gate Project SystemBoundary. (Source: DuPont Life Cycle Assessment Flexography & Rotogravure Printing Public Report, September 2008) Packaging Graphics: Lifecycle Assessment to Determine DuPont Most Sustainable Imaging & Printing Practices S ustainability. Barely on anyone’s radar screen two years ago, it now challenges and often befuddles our entire value chain. DuPont has been a sustainability leader since the mid 1980s when it began an aggressive campaign to focus on energy, natural resource and emissions reductions at its many sites around the globe. In 2006, at the forefront of the packaging industry beginning to focus on sustainability, DuPont set out its own environmental challenges. It aggressively broadened its sustainability commit- ments to its customers and asked its businesses to “create share- holder and societal value while reducing the environmental footprint of its offerings along our value chains.” (To read more see http:// www2.dupont.com/Sustainability/en_US/). Examples of that commitment include investments in the development of photovoltaic cells, Biobutanol, a next-generation advanced biofuel that will offer performance enhancements compared to existing biofuels, and DuPont™ Biomax® TPS for packaging applications containing 85-90 percent renewably sourced content for thermoformed trays and articles, and resins for injection-molded parts and containers. At the same time, DuPont Packaging Graphics began the pro- cess of understanding how our products, processes and systems impact our customers, as well as their customers. We had to understand this at a very granular level and we also had to un- derstand how competitive options stacked up against each other from an environmental perspective. In early 2007, DuPont Packaging Graphics began two Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) studies—one comparing the environmental footprint of thermal platemaking to solvent platemaking for flex- ography, and the other comparing the environmental footprint of 6 0 F LEXO flexographic printing to gravure printing. The LCA results provide data regarding the consumption of non-renewable energy and the emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG’s), two key measures in assessing the environmental impact of a product or process. “A Lifecycle Assessment is one of the most rigorous ways to examine a business’ environmental footprint,” said Lisa DiGate, global business director, DuPont Packaging Graphics. “We chose to use the LCA’s ISO and Peer Review process because of its broad industry acceptance and rigor and the recognition that sustain- able packaging is critical to a healthy future for our industry.” SCOPE OF THE STUDIES The first study, compared thermal and solvent platemaking for flexography, and included DuPont Packaging Graphics’ four platemaking systems—analog solvent, digital solvent, analog thermal and digital thermal. The objective of this study was to compare the environmental performance of solvent-based and thermal flexographic platemaking processes. Scope of the study is explained in Figure 1. The second study compared the flexographic printing process with rotogravure. The objective was to benchmark the environ- mental performance of flexographic versus rotogravure printing including print form preparation, imaging of the print form and printing of the substrates. This study focused primarily on the flexible packaging and tag and label markets. The scope is ex- plained in Figure 2. The LCA studies have been conducted in compliance with ISO 14040-44 and, per ISO guidelines, the results may be used to make comparative claims. Analyses to assure data completeness and integrity and Critical Peer Reviews were conducted under NOVEMB E R 20 0 8 www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g