How have GHGs been controlled by the EU? There are two major directives; the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (IPPC) and the Solvent Emissions Directive (SED). IPPC covers all forms of pollution, land, air and water and the massive range of industries from mining, energy, chemical production, waste management, poultry production and printing with a consumption of greater than 150 kilos per hour or 200 tonnes of VOCs per year. SED deals with specific industries that use VOCs and that covers printing where VOC consumption varies from 5 tonnes per year and upwards. Limits are set on the quantity of VOCs that can be released that in many cases requires abatement equipment to convert the VOCs to carbon dioxide and water. This equipment is expensive to purchase (up to €1,000,000) and requires technical expertise to run. Aside from rotary screen printing, sheet fed screen printing and all forms of digital printing are excluded. However, in some EU countries over zealous bureaucrats have invoked subsiduarity and included these printing processes into the VOC control mechanism. For those who may be unaware of the doctrine of subsiduarity it is means by which the Government of any EU state can include legislation that requires commerce or industry in that country to meet tighter rules than a prescribed EU directive; colloquially known as “gold plating.”
By the 2009 Copenhagen Accord world-wide Governments including the EU re-affirmed their commitment to reducing GHGs by 20% the 1990 emission by 2020. This level would not be reached with the current IPPC and SED legislation. Tougher targets would be needed. How will the aspirations of the politicians be met? There will be an assault on private industries to reduce their emissions some under the guise of environmental taxes such as aircraft travel that will help to reduce the massive debts of many Governments who have squandered their resources (i.e. taxes you have paid) in the past. Another method will be to reduce the permitted VOC emission limits. Alternatively, enterprises not currently covered by IPPC and/or SED will be included either by the use of the subsiduarity rule or an update to the directives or possibly both. Without a different method for dealing with VOCs, any of these approaches are likely to have an adverse impact upon the printer.
What is likely to happen? It has started. Currently the EU has combined the IPPC and SED with another five directives; this is known as the Industrial Emissions Directive and was approved by the EU Parliament in July 2010. To quote an official EU press release: “Stricter limits will apply for air pollution for example, although Member States will have some flexibility to extend deadlines for power plants or waive the rules for other installations in special cases.” However, since the newer Eastern European member countries have been allowed a derogation on their coal fired power stations it will be private industry that will have to make up the shortfall in emission reductions. The stricter emissions will come into effect 2016.
How can the printer circumvent this problem? The answer lies in the use of technology. Since the SED was introduced in the 1990s inks using UV technology, water-based products, very low VOC level compositions or combinations of these have been developed that can be used on virtually any substrate thus removing the need for high VOC products. Agreed they are often more expensive to purchase, the curing/drying equipment can be costly but nothing like as crippling as the abatement equipment that could be needed if stricter VOC control rules are introduced. There are techniques available to reduce the use of VOCs in the cleaning processes. Often this approach leads to a more efficient process and reduced costs.
By Paul Machin's"In the hectic business life that is printing keeping up to date with health, safety and environmental issues is a time-consuming activity that frequently disappears from the "to do list."
Producing a monthly blog to inform busy printers of the important topics associated with H S & E was considered as being a useful tool to overcome this potential deficiency."