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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Printing -- Lithography Topic Hub: Pollution Prevention Opportunities

Basic information on lithographic printing, including pollution prevention options and links to additional resources.

Pollution Prevention Options


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

What is pollution prevention? prevention (P2) is any practice that reduces, eliminates, or prevents pollution at its source. P2, also known as "source reduction," is the ounce-of-prevention approach to waste management. Reducing the amount of pollution produced means less waste to control, treat, or dispose of. Less pollution means less hazards posed to public health and the environment.

Note that only changes made at the input and process levels make improvements to core operations, thereby providing an investment into the operations. 

12 ways to improve your environmental performance and reduce regulatory burden

  1. Use closed loop recycling of fixer with silver recovery, instead of discharging the fixer solution 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. Recycle or reuse aluminum plates instead of discarding them into a waste receptacle. Also, use closed loop recycling, with off site metal reclamation, for metal etching solutions instead of discarding the metal etching solutions down the drain.
  6. Use low or zero-VOC fountain solutions or consider waterless printing operations.
  7. Replace isopropyl alcohol with alcohol substitutes in fountains solutions (avoid glycol ethers that are classified as a Hazardous Air Pollutant)
  8. Use low vapor pressure solvents and blanket washes, or water miscible solvents that also have a flashpoint greater than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Use solvents and blanket washes that contain no hazardous air pollutants such as toluene or 111-trichloroethane. Also, consider the use of automatic blanket washers, and consider on-site reclamation of solvents and blanket washes
  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.