How to Improve Solvent Management at your Printing Facility
Jodi Drew ITU AbsorbTech Environmental Engineer
Environmental regulations to control the management of solvent related waste are on the rise and are aimed primarily at the printing industry.
To ensure you do not exceed the allowable limits set by EPA, all of the solvents, inks and other potential VOCs used in everyday operations should be inventoried and accounted for. The more you know about where your solvent is going, the better you will understand where improvements can be made and the better prepared you will be for current and future compliance requirements.
The Importance of Solvent Tracking
Tracking where the solvents in your facility are actually going isn’t always a simple process. Printers often must rely on assumptions or estimates. For example, according to the new EPA reporting measure passed in Pennsylvania, 50% is the allowed estimate for how much solvent goes into the towels or wipes used to clean printing presses and wipe down screens and beds. But in my experience, there can be a huge variance with printers ranging anywhere from 20% to 70% of solvent actually going into the towels. The variance is dependent on how the solvent is applied and managed by end users.
The key to solvent management and accountability is to more accurately identify where the inks and solvents are going. One easy way printers can accomplish this is by getting regular solvent reports that identify how much solvent was recovered from the towels turned in for laundering.
What is a Towel Solvent Report
A towel solvent report is a proprietary report generated by ITU AbsorbTech that lists how much solvent was recovered from your printer towels. The report is generated monthly, and shows the solvent recovery in ML.
How do I use my Towel Solvent Report?
While the EPA allows you to estimate how much solvent goes into towels, the towel report depicts that actual amount of solvent that went into your towels. This, in turn, helps you determine if you are over or under the allowed estimate. Armed with this valuable information, you can more easily identify where to focus your solvent reduction strategies.
For example, if the solvent recovered from your towels is less than 50% of total solvent usage, this could mean other sources or areas need attention. Conversely, if solvent recovered from your towels is higher than 50%, you not only get the benefit of additional solvent volume recorded for compliance, but you can also take a closer examination of how to reduce solvent used in towels. (For example, avoid soaking towels in solvent at that process or application, or use pumps or squeeze bottles to dampen towels and wring after use to recover at your facility).
In summary, it’s important to develop and maintain good solvent management practices that will benefit your business and the environment. For questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jodi Drew is ITU AbsorbTech’s Environmental Engineer and is available as a resource for compliance questions.
ITU AbsorbTech uses proprietary technology to measure the solvent extracted during the recovery process and report the solvent quantity back to customers. Learn more about ITU AbsorbTech’s printer towel program.