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FLEXO Magazine : November 2008
FIGURE 2: Flow DiagramRotogravure Printing Process in Scope. (Source: DuPont Life Cycle Assessment Flexography & Rotogravure Printing Public Report, September 2008) the direction of Five Winds International—global experts in sustainable development. Tradeshops and converters from North America and Europe provided information needed to conduct the LCA. The Peer Review was conducted to ensure that an unbiased comparison of the processes was developed to help all flexographic industry participants. In the Peer Review Report, a comprehensive summary of the LCA findings available at www.cyrel.com, the external reviewers state that the users that participated in the studies were rep- resentative of the industry and that the depth and rigor of the data collection process made the study “a fair indication of the principle differences between the different technology (plate- making and printing) options.” In a nutshell, if you participate in the printing value chain, these LCA studies are relevant to you and provide unbiased insights that have been validated by external (non-DuPont) reviewers. DATA COLLECTION & KEY MEASURES The lifecycle analyses were performed using SimaPro software version 7. All data for the LCA was collected by means of data collection questionnaires. The populated questionnaires and the underlying input data were discussed with the providers in order to ensure data quality and to glean additional background of the op- erational procedures of each tradeshop and printer. The two principle en- vironmental impact ar- eas that were measured were non-renewable energy consumption expressed in mega joules (MJ) and greenhouse gas emissions expressed in CO2 equivalents. These measures have been the focus of the flexographic industry, and the LCA studies presented here focus on these as well. Total “non renewable energy consumption” essentially char- Greenhouse gas emissions characterize the global warming potential in relation to CO2 . Since the residence time of the gases in the atmosphere is incorporated into the calculation, a time range for the assessment must also be specified. A period of 100 years, a standard set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the IPCC (100 yr) methodology are applied in this study. As energy use and carbon footprint of available printing and platemaking choices were being sought by all participants in the value chain, the LCA studies focused on these two measures of impact. Other environmental impacts, such as VOC emissions and toxicity, were not included in these studies. FLEXOGRAPHY VS. ROTOGRAVURE Comparing the impact of printed film in the flexible packaging FIGURE 3: Greenhouse Gas Effect and tag and label markets from flexographic and rotogravure pro- cesses, it can be seen that gravure printing has a higher consump- tion of non-renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions than flexographic printing on an area basis. As seen in Figure 4 (see page 62), the average overall flex- ography GHG emissions impact is 43 percent lower and the non- renewable energy use is 31 percent lower than the rotogravure impact. The rotogravure printers studied print a higher percentage of paper (35 percent) com- pared to flexographic printers (8 percent). This could be due partly to acterizes the gain from the energy sources natural gas, crude oil, lignite, coal and uranium. Natural gas and crude oil is used both for energy production and as material constituents e.g. in plastics. Coal is primarily used for energy production. Uranium is only used for electricity production in nuclear power stations. the non-overlapping markets served by the different processes. Another difference is the amount of scrap material produced. From data provided by the printers studied, rotogravure averages 24 percent scrap and flexo averages 8 percent scrap. There are differences in the printing processes that lead to the higher energy, ink, and solvent use in the rotogravure process www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g NOVEMB E R 20 0 8 F LEXO 61