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FLEXO Magazine : Sustainable Winter 2010
www.flexomag.com WINTER 2010 Sustainable FLEXO 11 the scope of the study. The project represents a "cradle-to- gate" rather than a "cradle-to-grave" analysis. A full "cradle- to-grave" analysis would include many operations that are only peripherally influenced by the choice of platemaking technol- ogy, and were thus declared out of scope for this study. The scope definition was chosen not only to allow the most accu- rate process data to be collected, but also to provide the most relevant comparisons between platemaking technologies. Thus, the scope of these analyses included the materials flows and impacts associated with the following processes: • Raw material extraction and processing • Production and packaging of the photopolymer material (sheet or liquid) • Imaging and Processing of the photopolymer plate Transportation of the plates from the manufacturing loca- tions to customer sites was not included in the study. The LCAs were performed using GaBi version 4.3 software and data from the EcoInvent database. Results from the analyses were then incorporated into the Environmental Footprint Calculator. CAPABILITIES AND FEATURES The Environmental Footprint Calculator (EFC) allows the user to model a wide range of scenarios using multiple variables. The compete range of input types and values is shown in Table 1. Table 1: EFC Input Categories and Values Input Categories Values Product Digital Sheet Plate Liquid Photopolymer Gauge 0.045 in / 1.14 mm 0.067 in / 1.70 mm 0.125 in / 3.18 mm 0.250 in / 6.35 mm Processing Method Solvent Thermal Liquid Processing Location Canada France United Kingdom 10 regions within the United States Plate length, in Infinite Plate width, in Infinite Number of Plates Infinite One unique feature of the EFC is that users can input their particular plate processing location(s). This is important because the power grids in different countries or regions con- tain vastly different compositions of natural resources. Figure 2 shows how the composition of these power grids can vary. Including this element in the EFC helps users to get a more accurate picture of their real environmental footprint. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT CATEGORIES In order to be as transparent as possible, MacDermid chose to calculate and report the results for a broad range of environmental impact categories. Reporting on a larger number of impact categories allows users to evaluate each scenario based on their unique set of goals and priorities. The impact categories for which the Environmental Footprint Calculator reports results are: • Energy Consumption • Water Consumption • Acidification of water • Eutrophication of water • Global Warming • Ozone Depletion • Smog Generation Energy consumption. This estimates the total quantity of energy consumed during the modeled lifecycle of the product. Energy is measured in megajoules (MJ). One kilowatt-hour (kWh) is equal to 3.6 MJ. Since much of the world's energy still sources from nonrenewable sources, energy use is a chief consideration for industrial societies. In addition, the combus- tion of fossil fuels to create energy is a direct contributor to many other environmental impacts, including Acidification, Eutrophication, Global Warming, and Smog Generation. Water consumption. The total quantity of water consumed during the lifecycle of the product. Water consumption is mea- sured in U.S. gallons (gal). With persistent drought spreading across the globe, water sources are becoming increasingly valuable, and careful water management is a top priority in many regions of the world. Acidification of water. Also known as acid rain, this is the process by which the pH of a body of water is decreased due to the entry of acidifying compounds, particularly nitric acid (HNO3) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4). These substances are generated when the air pollutants sul- fur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) are released into the atmosphere, react with water vapor, and reach a water body through precipitation or atmospheric deposition. Acidifi- cation is detrimental to an ecosystem if the pH drops to a level ()78, (08/03 '*45, $9870+, '*45, FIGURE 1: The complete package printing supply chain. The red box denotes the processes within the scope of the study. Image courtesy MacDermid Printing Solutions.