Facts and Fiction
When it comes
to environmental concerns in communications, it is design which can
help to establish the criteria. To begin, the most appropriate transmission
media should be selected. Some information is short-lived or extremely
changable and can be well suited for online distribution on the Web.
If print is the best medium choice, then decisions primarily center
around material selections and printing processes which impact on air
and water quality and waste generation. This is where the complexity
and the facts & fiction of the issues becomes confusing. Some things
are changing rapidly; other are hardly changing at all and won't unless
we begin to make our voices heard.
There are no easy solutions, sometimes just better trade-offs. The hard
facts aren't very creative. Mostly, it's a balancing act, but a good
place to start taking responsibility is in project planning.
little things that
make a big difference
knowing the lingo
things that make a big difference
you choose a paper, an ink, a coating, or an adhesive, you are making
not only a design and printing decision, but an environmental one as
well. Trying to integrate even some of these suggestions into your working
process will be the beginning of a real commitment to more environmentally-sensitive
design and printing practices.
specification of PMS colors that exceed EPA threshold levels of copper
and/or barium. Totally avoid all metallic inks and fluorescent inks,
especially the greens, oranges and opaque yellows. Download Partners
in Design's fact sheet True
Colors? Copper and Barium in PMS Colors
ink manufacturers for more research and design of nontoxic
vegetable oil inks with low VOC
ratings. Evaluate comparable inks since the range of VOC percentages
will vary based on the formulation for specific printing processes.
- Open up
a dialogue with your printer about good housekeeping practices and
alcohol substitutes in the pressroom.
and specify materials with the "cradle-to-grave" principle
in mind, matching the expenditure of resources to the intended lifespan
of the piece.
appropriate media for distribution of messages. Consider online communication
for mass distribution of changeable, timely information.
additional time into your schedules for research, testing and production
and come to an understanding that this is an acceptable short-term
trade-off if you are committed to environmentally-sensitive design.
higher short term costs in alternative products while more markets
success and support will always come from developing long-term relationships
with your vendors. Printers are more willing to test new materials
with you if they know you are a steady client.
- Be clear
in your specification requests, to avoid the substitution of lesser-quality
products. Until you become familiar with particular products, ask
for specific information on VOC ratings, the bleaching method used
and the breakdown of the waste content in recycled papers.
production notes on projects whenever
possible. Develop your own standard of offering the information you
deem essential to your audience. Stating the processes used or avoided
can sometimes be the clearest solution.
non-ink printing processes like die-cutting and embossing that make
beautiful use of rougher, darker grades of recycled sheets (and don't
overcompensate with heavy ink coverage on the text sheets).
than force-fitting alternative materials to a particular design aesthetic,
let them lead you to new ways of considering the design approach.
coatings and laminations should be rethought when done for aesthetic
reasons rather than for protection, particularly if the piece will
have a short life.
- Dark shades
of paper dyes and heavy coverage of inks
increase the difficulty and the amount of chemicals necessary in the
deinking process. Consider
the choices carefully if the printed piece is likely to be recycled.
using a lighter weight of paper when choosing a recycled sheet since
the naturally shorter fibers are somewhat more opaque.
paper merchants about the bleaching
methods used on both virgin and recycled sheets and indicate your
preference for TCF bleaching methods.
- If you
are a student or design or communications, encourage your instructors
to arrange visits to paper mills, ink facilities and deinking plants
that the whitest and brightest paper is not always the best solution
for every application.
recycled papers with high (upwards of 50%-80%) postconsumer
waste, and deinked fiber that has not been rebleached with chlorinated
the expenditure of resources to the intended life span of the printed
the idea that recycled fiber in text and writing papers lowers quality.
Think of the Acoma potter who mixes broken clay shards into every
new batch of fresh clay. Think of the quilter who uses scraps to create
a new whole.
of Greenwash. Double check promotional information, find suppliers
you can trust and support professional organizations to provide unbiased
to know what you're talking about! Like any other specialization, you've
got to speak the lingo both to understand and to make yourself understood.
Here is a basic start-up glossary to get you going, along with some
further helpful links. This list will be added to when we get a sense
of what people know and don't know, so check back frequently.
AOX (adsorbable organic halogen)
AOX is a broad term that combines all types of chlorinated organics
into one number measuring the total amount of chlorine bound to organic
compounds. It does not distinguish between compounds that bioaccumulate
and those that do not.
alkaline papers typically use calcium carbonate (CaCO3) instead of clay
for filler. The American National Standards Organization (ANSI) requires
a permanent paper to have a pH of 7.5 or greater, and a minimum 2% alkaline
reserve as a buffering agent. (pH measures the degree of acidity and
alkalinity; pH 7 is neutral, above 7 is alkaline, below 7 is acidic).
Some "acid-free" papers indicate only that an alkaline sizing
process was used, but not that a minimum pH of 7.5 has been achieved
or that a 2% alkaline reserve is present. Papers meeting the full ANSI
standards can display the Alkaline Permanent Paper Symbol.
the current standard regulatory list of heavy metals which includes
cadmium, arsenic, mercury, antimony, lead and selenium.
dyes used to color paper and textiles, chemically called azo dyes. Direct
dyes can be anionic orcationic. Anionic dyes contain compounds which
are known human health and environmental hazards.
chlorine free or dioxin free
these non-specific terms do not offer enough information to indicate
that the paper has been bleached without the use of any chlorinated
also called organochlorines, these synthetic chemicals are formed in
the chlorine bleaching of brown
tree pulp to white, as well as in incineration of solid waste and combustion
engines and can cause considerable damage when they enter an ecosystem.
the process of removing printed inks and finishing materials from the
reusable fiber of paper.
generic term for suspected carcinogens, extremely toxic to both humans
and animals and very resistant to bioloigical breakdown. Many different
chlorinated compounds are commonly called "dioxins".
EPA Cluster Rule
US Environmental Protection Agency's proposed regulation to limit water
effluent and air emissions from pulp and paper companies. These limits
are still under consideration, but if approved, could influence the
future of pulp bleaching technologies.
EPA Method 24
US Environmental Protection Agency's measurement method of measuring
the amount of VOC emissions given off by a compound, such as a printing
ink, when it is burned under rapid intense heat. There is debate as
to whether this method gives a true reading, since inks are rarely subjected
to such intense heat, even when incinerated.
The official mark of Environment Canada awarded to products that meet
the Canadian government's Environmental Choice criteria. EcoLogo certification
requires that "printing papers must contain over 50% by weight
of recycled paper of which a minimum of 10% of the total weight must
be postconsumer fiber." The distinction of "by weight"
is significant, since, if not specified, the recycled content is probably
based on fiber content and not weight. Since all papers contain fillers,
the actual amount of recycled content in such instances will necessarily
elemental chlorine free (ECF)
refers to pulp that has been bleached without the use of chlorine gas.
ECF pulp may, however, have been bleached with hypochlorite or chlorine
more extensive list of metals with a specific gravity greater than 5.0
such as copper, lead, cadmium, chromium-6 and zinc. Although not all
are regulated, most heavy metals pose health risks to humans and animals.
(material safety data sheet)
Product identification sheet which is prepared by ink, dye and solvent
manufacturers and which must detail any hazardous ingredients and environmental
precautions. MSDSs are available for all of these products, <(see
sample MSDS)> if not always easy to understand.
clean, unprinted paper or board, such as converting cutting, envelope
clippings and reject and obsolete paper collected from binderies, envelope
manufacturers, and other paper converters. This paper waste, also called
"mill broke," is considered preconsumer waste by the EPA but
not by Environment Canada.
nondeinked postconsumer waste
recycled waste paper that has not gone through any rebleaching.
oxygen bleaching or oxygenation
a totally chlorine-free process used to seperate lignin from wood fibers,
and to bleach and whiten pulp.
a totally chlorine-free process used to separate lignin from wood fibers
and to bleach and whiten pulp.
one of the three components of all commercial printing inks, the other
two being vehicle and binder. Derived mainly from metals or clays (inorganic
pigments) or petroleum byproducts (organic pigments). Some ink pigments,
in both petroleum and vegetable based formulas, still contain heavy
or toxic metals.
processed chlorine free (PCF)
qualified term which indicates that no new chlorine has been introduced
into the bleaching and pulping opeartions. Dioxins, however, may be
present in recycled paper pulp, or in the fibers of trees which have
been contaminated through toxic air emissions.
papers and cardboards which have already been used and discarded by
the consumer, such as materials that have passed through consumer use
and and have been, for the most part, recovered from the waste
stream through recycling, such as papers, cardboards, checks, mailings
and office waste. Postconsumer waste is paper that will be burned or
buried if not recycled.
materials that have been printed, coated or processed, but have not
been used in their finished form, such as printed scrap and trimmings
from publishers and printers, and second cut cotton linters.
soy-based or vegetable-based inks
Vegetable or soy oil percentages are given for only the vegetable oil
content of the ink. Thus, a "100% soy-based ink" does not
necessarily mean that 100% of the total oil content of the ink is soy;
but only that 100% of the vegetable oil in the ink is soy. The remainder
of the oil content is probably petroleum. A better evaluation of the
percentage of petroleum oil replacement in any given ink is by its VOC
The American Soybean Association SoySeal logo can be used for the following
soy ink formulations: a news ink with at least 55% soybean oil; a sheetfed
ink with at least 20%, and a heatset web with at least 18%. These are
minimum replacement standards, and many soy or vegetable oil formulations
now being marketed carry much higher replacement amounts.
totally chlorine free (TCF)
refers to pulp and paper that has been bleached without the use of chlorinated
compounds, using instead oxygen, hydrogen peroxide or ozone.
totally effluent free (TEF)
a closed loop system in a manufacturing industry, where everything is
Voluntary labeling standard established by the Consumer Product Safety
Commission for the inks used on toys and other products used by children.
A Toy Safe ink does not necessarily pass FDA requirements for food contact
the only unbleached paper is brown kraft. Newsprint and all printing
papers are bleached to some extent.
(volatile organic compound)
emissions that are the result of the evaporation of petroleum oils and
solvents and which contribute to air pollution through the formation
of ozone. VOCs are irritants and depressants to the central nrvous system.
Some are toxic, and a few, such as benzene and toluene, are carcinogenic.
Printers, dry cleaners and metal fabricators are VOC producers.
M & M's lately? Remember those white M's? Never mind wondering how
they're printed, think about the ink.
Food contact inks...a very select niche in the ink manufacturing business-the
only inks available that are totally free of heavy
metals and toxic substances. The colorants use the purest forms
of the pigment available. Every lot produced needs to be tested and
certified before shipment. These alternative nontoxic substitutes are
generally synthetic inorganic compounds or organic dyes, lakes or pigments.
Many are derivitives of coal tar dyes. These inks' main uses are in
the food, drug, cosmetic and medical implant industries, although formulations
are available for sheetfed, heatset web, flexographic and silkscreen.
Why aren't they more widely used? The inks are 2 to 3 times the price
per pound of standard lithographic inks, but that's not the whole reason.
In reality, the cost of ink alone accounts for less than 2% of a average
print project's budget. The real reason is that you have to give up
something to get something. Color in its purest form does not lend itself
well to lightfastness, color strength and gloss. The clear cyan blues
and clean warm reds of commercial printing inks are impossible to produce,
as we know them, without copper and barium. The long-term environmental
impact of these pigments is much debated, and the issue quickly becomes
clouded by definitions and numerous regulatory and economic considerations.
While there is some work being done to develop an offset ink color palette
of nontoxic pigments, which colors to use and how much of them will
remain an ethical judgement call for a long time to come.
In the complex
area of paper dyes, if designers are concerned about choosing a product
with a small ecological footprint, it is easier to assess the environmental
record of a company than to assess a particular product. Although MSDS
(Material Safety Data Sheets) are prepared for paper dyes, the formulations
are fairly proprietary, since a paper's success in the marketplace relies
heavily on its texture, printability and, of course, its color. In 1958,
the government developed what was called the Prior Sanctions List, essentially
lists of dyes that were deemed safe because they had caused no prior
Most of these dyes are not considered safe by today's standards and
very few are still used by the paper industry. In addition, heavy-metal
content in paper dyes has been reduced by about 60% since the 70s (although
with increased printing volume, the environmental dose may be the same).
Many mills have developed new dyes that are water-insoluble. These dyes
basically won't come out of the paper, either onto anything the paper
comes into contact with or when the paper is deinked. Soluble dyes are,
however, still used in some paper lines, particularly for bright, fluorescent
sheets, and this could have implications if suspect pigment components
enter the waste stream.
The dye industry is not regulated. and the FDA is only concerned with
paper dyes that have direct food contact. However, a mill can decide
to set its own "standard of care." A good way to assess a
company's approach is to contact paper manufacturers directly and inquire
what guidelines their paper designers consult and what materials they
avoid when developing a new dye color.
An East Coast mill gave us the following scenario that their paper designers
need to follow through to develop a new dye color. First, they consider
worker safety. If the material has acute or chronic health effects on
workers, they won't use it. Second, they consult the Clean Water Act.
If the material contains primary pollutants that will cause problems
when discharged into rivers or when deinked, they won't use it. And
lastly, they consult RECRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)
which governs the disposal of materials. If the material comes in a
55-gallon drum which will have to be disposed of as hazardous waste,
they won't use it.
standard regulatory definition of heavy metals includes what is know
as the CAMALS list, specifically cadmium, arsenic, mercury, antimony,
lead and selenium. If restrictions on the use of heavy metals in inks
are limited to these six metals, the inks affected would be only those
used to print on flexible packaging, especially on transparent films.
Fluorescent greens, oranges and extremely opaque bright yellows would
also have to be reformulated.
used almost exclusively to print bright and deep reds on special acid-resistant
labels. Known carcinogen and neurotoxin, no longer used in pigment formulation.
known carcinogen and neurotoxin
neurotoxin in humans, and acutely toxic to marine life
linkled to lung congestion, infertility and eye and skin irritation
approximately 60% of the weight used in chrome yellow and molybdate
orange pigments is derived from lead. Use is restricted to printing
on special materials such as mylar and acetates. Known carcinogen and
neurotoxin. The National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM)
suggests inorganic pigment substitution when exact color matches, opacity
and lightfastness are not requirements.
linked to lung irritation, breating problems and liver damage
Barium and copper, although not classified as true heavy metals, can,
in certain forms, produce effects like heavy metals. Barium is federally
regulated as a toxic constituent (TC) and copper and zinc are acutely
toxic to aquatic life in certain forms. Zinc is a necessary component
of metallic golds, bronzes, and tinted shades; aluminum is present in
silver and gold and manganese and cobalt are routinely used as drying
agents. If restrictions are extended to these heavy metals, the the inks
affected would include traditional litho inks used in their most common
formulations, ie the four process colors. For more on colors that exceed
current EPA maximum on copper and barium, download Partners in Design's
Colors? Copper and Barium in PMS Colors.The following are considered
to have the greatest health risks and may face future restrictions, depending
on the success of the ink lobbying industry:
widely used in formulation of printing ink red organic pigments, including
the Lithols, the Permanent Red 2Bs and the Red Lake Cs, among others.
Known irritant to the lungs; chronic exposure damages the heart and
used with lead to make the pigmant lead chromate. Known carcinogen in
essential component for formulation of phthalocyanine blue and green
pigments. Standard blue pigment for use in Process Blue. There is no
available replacement for this important class of pigment that is used
in most blue and green inks. Acutely and chronically toxic to marine
essential component of all standard whites and tinted shades, and in
metallics. Acutely toxic to marine life.The current standard regulatory
definition of heavy metals includes what is know as the CAMALS list,
which includes cadmium, arsenic, mercury, antimony, lead and selenium.
If restrictions on the use of heavy metals in inks are limited to these
six metals, the inks affected would be those used to print on flexible
packaging, especially on transparent films. Fluorescent greens, oranges
and extremely opaque bright yellows would also have to be reformulated.
But if restrictions are extended to other heavy metals, including barium,
chromium, copper and zinc, the inks affected would include traditional
litho inks used in their most common formulations, ie the four process
example of how production notes can be written so that they can add
value to a project and help in the sharing of useful information. Remember,
it is important to mention as many processes as possible that were addressed
in the project production, so that people become aware of the range
of issues nvolved.
was printed by Ecology Printers on their two-color Heidelberg SORMZ CPC
1.03, 20-1/2" x 29" press running 100% alcohol-free.
The stock is Ecology Paper, a 100% recycled deinked paper made with 15-20%
Match inks are Ecology Gloss inks by Ecology Inks, a soy and canola mixture
which contains no petroleum distillates and has a <1% VOC rating.
Please help continue the cycle and recycle this printed piece.