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FLEXO Magazine : Sustainable Spring 2009
Environment Meets Economics Eco-Efficiency Analysis Demonstrates Material & Monetary Benefits of Flexo Inks on Film By Cristina Piluso, John Serafano, Lauren M. Kloock, Richard Grandke and Christopher A. Bradlee H ow many ways can we be “green?” Consumers are increasing their expectations of the packaging contain- ing the products they consume—they want to know that their purchases are environmentally sound. While surveys differ on whether or not buyers will pay a premium for this, there is some consensus among consumer products compa- nies (CPCs) that such price increases are not acceptable. The concept, development and application of sustainable packag- ing touch all stakeholders in the value chain. Suppliers and package producers are diligently working to answer the need of this rapidly changing market. They want greener packaging, but will not shell out more greenbacks for it. Raw material selection is a vital component in producing products that meet the stringent demands of today’s sustain- able package. Skepticism is mounting with consumers as many products with eco-labels flood the shelves of stores. In response government, NGO’s (non-government organiza- tions) and trade organizations are adopting guidelines for marketing claims made on packaging. This year the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is adopting new guidelines on green marketing, the first such change in more than a decade (see FLEXO March page 56). Market interest in environmental information on products that is credible, unbiased, verifiable, and covers the entire lifecycle is growing. Lifecycle assessment tools have become an important quantitative tool to validate the environmental impacts and claims of products and processes. METHODS AND MATERIALS Eco-Efficiency Methodology and Study Alternatives. An Eco-efficiency analysis (EEA) evaluates both the economic and environmental impacts that products and processes have over the course of their lifecycle1 . The methodology was created by BASF, in partnership with an external consultant, and has since been further developed. The EEA is based upon the ISO 14040 standard for lifecycle analyses, however in addition to this standard, includes enhancementswhich allow for the expedi- ent review and decisionmaking at all business levels. Since its inception in 1996, nearly 400 analyses have been completed on a wide variety of products and processes. In particular, an EEA evaluates the environmental impact of the production, use, and disposal of a product or process in the areas of energy and re- source consumption, emissions, toxicity and risk potential, and land use. The EEA also evaluates the lifecycle costs associated with the product or process by calculating the costs related to materials, manufacturing, waste disposal, and energy. 1 0 Su s t a i n a b l e F LEXO The alternatives compared under this EEA study are sum- marized in Table 1, and consisted of water-based, solvent- based, and UV-cured printing inks. The Customer Benefit (CB), or defined level of output, for this study was defined as the production, use and disposal of 1,000 m2 of 3 mil LDPE flexographic printed film with a 25 percent solid image cover- age area as applied by each individual printing station on a four-color CI (Central Impression) press. The context of this EEA study compared three products com- peting in a consumer market with an incremental innovation level at a regional level over the course of an entire lifecycle. Ink System Water Solvent UV-Cured Table 1. Summary of study alternatives Description Styrene acrylic water-borne thermally cured LMW polyamide solvent-borne thermally cured Polyester acrylate UV-cured System Boundaries. The scope of any EEA is defined by its system boundaries, which define the specific elements of production, use, and disposal that are considered as part of the analysis. The system boundaries for the three alternatives evaluated in this particular study are shown in Figure 1. The production, use, and disposal phases of the various printing inks differed slightly between the alternatives, therefore, the environmental and economic impact analysis focused on all three phases for each printing ink alternative. Environmental and Cost Categories. The environmental and economic aspects are deemed and weighted equally important in an eco-efficiency analysis. As briefly mentioned earlier, environmental impact is characterized using 11 cat- egories, including: primary energy consumption, raw mate- rial consumption, global warming potential (GWP), ozone depletion potential (ODP), acidification potential (AP), smog creation potential, water emissions, solid waste generation, toxicity potential, risk potential, and land use. Primary energy consumption includes the cumulative energy utilized during production, use, and disposal as well as the energy content remaining in the products. All forms of energy are converted back to their primary energy sources, measured in MJ/CB, and include: crude oil, natural gas, anthracite, lignite, uranium ore, water power, biomass and others. The individual energy values are summed to obtain the total primary energy consumption. S P R ING/SUMME R 20 0 9 www. f l e x oma g . c om