Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Promoting Pollution Prevention Through Information Exchange

Please note that the Topic Hubs developed by this Center have been archived and are no longer being updated. GLRPPR has converted several of its Topic Hubs to LibGuides, which allow for integration of some social features.

View the converted hubs, as well as other LibGuides related to pollution prevention and sustainability, in the University of Illinois' LibGuides Community.

Archived: P2Rx no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

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Printing-Flexography: P2 Opportunities
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons for Change
P2 Opportunities
Key Contacts
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Design for the Environment: Flexographic Printing Partnership
Provides technical information and pollution prevention tips for printers. Includes general project...

Flexographic Ink Options: A Cleaner Technologies Substitutes Assessment
Comparative evaluation of solvent-based, water-based, and ultra-violet cured ink technologies on wid...

Inside Flexo: A Cleaner Run for the Money
Twenty-minute video developed for the Design for the Environment Project that provides flexographic ...

Pollution Prevention for the Printing Industry: A Manual for Technical Assistance Providers
Contains common P2 practices for printing and several case studies. Lithography, flexograhy, gravur...

Printers' National Environmental Assistance Center
Compliance assistance center, current trends, news, tools

Which Metals Does the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH) Legislation Target?
Includes links to detailed descriptions (including health effects) of cadmium, mercury, lead, and he...

This section contains information about alternatives to pollution control or off-site waste treatment in order to reduce waste volume generated as well as costs and liability associated with management. Information in this section includes activities and materials specific to flexographic printing industry that help reduce the toxicity or volume of waste generated and/or released into the atmosphere.

Pollution Prevention Definition

Pollution Prevention (P2) options are by definition only available through changes to the material inputs or process portions of the operation. The best management option for wastes (outputs) that cannot be completely eliminated is to reduce, then recycle, followed by treatment and disposal, in decreasing order of preference.

Note that only changes made at the Input and Process level make improvements to core operations, thereby providing an investment into the operations. 

12 ways to improve your environmental and waste reduction activities:  

  1. Use closed loop recycling of film fixer, with silver recovery, instead of discharging the fixer down the drain or septic tank
  2. Never discharge chemicals (even diluted) or water containing fats, oils or grease into a septic system
  3. Use a variable flow rate when rinsing film, instead of a continuous flow, to reduce the amount of water used and contaminated by the film processing operation
  4. Recycle waste and scrap film, or use a direct to plate imaging technology to reduce the amount of silver associated with photographic films
  5. Obtain ink manufacturers recommendations on ideal viscosity, running temperature, and adjustment chemical additions (toner, ammonia, alcohol, other solvent)
  6. Minimize the use of make up solvent used in inks by carefully metering/measuring each solvent addition. Base additions on ink manufacturers recommendations (obtain with each ink) to adjust viscosity up or down
  7. Keeping ink containers closed to minimize solvent evaporation from inks and minimize paper dust contamination. Keeping containers closed will also help control ink temperature and runability
  8. Use low vapor pressure (<10 mm Hg at 30 degrees Celsius) cleaning solvents, or water miscible solvents that also have a flashpoint greater than 140 degrees Fahrenheit
  9. Solvents such as perchloroethylene (Perc), toluene, or 111-trichloroethane, and blends that contain benzene compounds, emit hazardous air pollutants into the atmosphere. They may also be carcinogenic, and are subject to more regulation than alternative products. Use solvents that contain no hazardous air pollutants and consider the use of automated or alternative parts washers using materials such as CO2
  10. Centrifuge shop towels to remove excess solvents prior to laundering. Filter and ruse the recovered solvent for cleaning
  11. Blend and reuse current ink supplies by utilizing an ink mixing system, instead of disposing of press return and leftover ink as a waste that may be considered hazardous
  12. Recycle all waste paper and office paper instead of disposing of it in a landfill. Consider compactor equipment (portable or permanent) to minimize storage requirement and increase refund for paper


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Printing-Flexography Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 9/4/2008

GLRPPR is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange, a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WSPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest).


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