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FLEXO Magazine : November 2008
PROFILE SELECTION Whenever climate change is discussed, the term “carbon footprint” is not far away. The processes surrounding CO2 emissions, however, are only one factor on the assessment of environmental impacts (see Figure 1). An Eco-Profile, on the other hand, represents a larger scope of the relevant parameters, e.g. the use of raw materials for a product seen over the whole manufacturing process, and therefore has greater signifi- cance. A Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) goes one step further. In addition to the use of the product, recycling is taken into ac- count as well. With industrial products or processes, economic factors play a decisive role. As such, an evaluation method is preferred that considers these criteria sufficiently. That is why the Eco- Efficiency-Analysis was selected. This standardised and TÜV (German Technical Inspection Agency) validated method is acknowledged by several institutes and authorities in Europe (amongst others the German Environmental Protection Agency) and in the U.S. (among others, the National Science Foundation). FIGURE 1. The carbon footprint presents a small but meaningful area of the ecological relevant factors. An Eco-Efficiency Analysis examines the whole lifecycle from raw materials to disposal, including the related costs. It also looks into other environmental aspects, such as ozone depletion po- tential, ozone generation, and cost effectiveness of the processes. The cost analysis includes power and material usage. For this rea- son, this form of eco-study goes one important step further than, for example, an Eco-Profile, according to the guidelines of the ISO 14,000 environmental standard. METHODOLOGY For the study, comparable base assumptions have been made for both alternative processes. For the printing plate the Flint Group Flexographic Products’ nyloflex® Cyrel® ACE along with DuPont’s FAST DFH were the types select- ed—both in the version for digital imag- ing. Plate thickness (1.14mm/0.045in.), format (920 x 1200mm/36x47in.) and structure of the printing plate were iden- tical in each case. The manufacturer’s instructions applied for the processing. Consumption data and prices correspond to market data and customer information. Details of both alternative processes are compared in Table 1. Data was entered into a spreadsheet supplied by BASF, including material for the plate, energy used, equipment, etc. From there, the amount of energy required for the production of the raw material out of crude oil and natural gas was calculated. The data collected is very similar to a Lifecycle Assessment. Flint Group compared customers FIGURE 2. Comparing the process costs, the solvent based plate production shows an obvious advantage over the thermo technology. www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g in Germany that used both solvent and thermal platemaking processes. Measurements were taken on both pieces NOVEMB E R 20 0 8 F LEXO 65