One way to check and co-ordinate the elements of our environmental policy, as well as measuring progress, is the Eco Balance, which has been operational throughout Roto Smeets Group since 1994. The Eco Balance is a mass balance of all inflows and outflows of materials and has displayed a clear, continuous improvement in recent years, compared with 1994, the reference year.
The data produced by Roto Smeets Group are coordinated and validated by TME – the Institute for Applied Environmental Economics – which specialises in the economics and management of the environment and natural resources.
The Ecobalance measures the streams in the individual Roto Smeets Group plants and the plants as a whole. It is not just a record. If performance is accurately captured in terms of numbers, it becomes possible to set precise goals with plans for action, the results of which can also be precisely measured. Because the Ecobalance reveals the companies’ complete material budget, it can be used not only to manage emissions but also to help in the efficient management of raw materials and ancillary chemicals in the production process.
A more accurate picture is gained by comparing results for the previous five years.
The data presented here are taken from the RSG Ecobalance
and represent a careful measurement of all incoming
and outgoing flows. The figures below come from the RSG
Just like last year, the key index showed a slight rise over the year before. In absolute terms the energy consumption remained the same. With the drop in amount of paper processed, the energy in the key indices per ton paper increased slightly. Energy sources must be continually supplied with electricity, even when production has stopped. RSG intends to continue saving energy. The investments in regenerative afterburners made by the web-based plants contributed significantly to the reduction in gas consumption. The use of frequency regulation of the ventilation fans in the rotogravure plants also had a favourable effect. A negative effect on consumption was partly caused by the increased gas consumption for toluene recovery at the rotogravure plants. Every 5 years the carbon bed for the toluene recovery process must be replaced. At Roto Smeets Etten, this must be done next year. This means that in the last year, more steam and water are required to obtain the same recovery efficiency of 99%.
Water consumption in 2013 was slightly higher than in 2012, largely due to the weather but also to a faulty valve engine in the cooler and a overhaul of the sprinkler installation, at Roto Smeets Weert. The key index is also influenced by the fact that the central coolers remain in operation, even when less printing is done, as was the case in 2013. The rotogravure plants also use water to generate steam in boilers to support the toluene recovery. In 2013 Roto Smeets Etten, anticipating the regeneration of the active charcoal beds of the recovery system, required more steam for steaming and cleaning.
The ancillary materials index is mainly determined by the consumption of packaging materials. The increased quantity of single-use pallets was responsible for the rise in this index, amounting to almost 50% of the total kilograms of packaging materials. We also saw a growth in the packaging of magazines with more leaflets. Although it is not evident in the index, it is worth mentioning that the use of biodegradable packaging films is gaining ground over the more common type. We have a broad range of 100% biodegradable packaging films that can be added directly to the compost. The packaging is manufactured from renewable raw materials like corn-starch or biomass and fibrous materials like sugarcane or palm-tree fibre. The use of agricultural crops benefits the carbon cycle compared to oil-based materials. RSG uses a fi lm that is made from starch and is 100% compostable. At the correct humidity and temperature, the fi lm ‘decomposes’ into compost in 12 weeks. It is only 18μm thick, while normal fi lm is 25μm.
EMISSIONS TO WATER
EMISSIONS TO AIR
A change in the composition of the rotogravure inks and the increased ink consumption, as described on page 56, explain the rise in VOC emissions in 2013 compared to 2012. In 2014 again a decline is expected due to the move to different inks. The use of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) in the offset plants has been declining for years as the press workers use lower dosages and even print on alcohol-free presses. This has resulted in a 75% decrease in VOC (volatile organic compounds) over the past 10 years. Continuing with minimal dosing, more alcohol-free printing and the use of different moistening water additives remain the most significant ways to cut IPA emissions even further in future. VOCs also include other compounds, such as other moistening water additives and cleansers, plus toluene from the ink in rotogravure processes. Toluene is a solvent in the ink, and some of it is released during printing. This toluene-containing air is drawn off above the presses and sent to a recovery plant. The yield of these toluene recovery plants is around circa 99%. On balance, so much toluene is recovered that a considerable amount can be sold back to the suppliers, after deduction of a small amount for internal use. The possibilities to permanently cut toluene emissions from the rotogravure plants lie mainly in the use of high pigment inks and an expansion of concentration-dependent air extraction above the presses. The fact that the prepress process has ceased to use toluene, as they now use clamps rather than glue, and coupled with the use of Biosol G, has contributed to this result.
The RSG wastes can be classified into three types:
- Hazardous waste
- General process waste
- Recyclable waste
98% of the RSG wastes can be recycled. The waste is separated and collected by a qualified company specialising in sustainable waste management. Waste management goes further than just collecting, processing and/or recycling all types of waste. It’s also about reducing the quantity and cutting the costs of waste. This is done by better separation at the source, optimisation of the processing and recycling. Re-introducing waste materials into the production cycle helps counter resource depletion and cuts CO2 emissions. RSG also collects hazardous wastes in this same sustainable way, having them processed to innocuous residues and valuable raw materials, thus lessening their impact and hazards to mankind and the environment. The reduction in hazardous wastes can mainly be attributed to the lowering of the refresh rate of the rotogravure copper-plating baths and the decrease in plate developer at the offset plants. This makes up ca. 30% of the total quantity of hazardous waste. Optimisation of the procedures involved in cleaning and refreshing the development baths is responsible for this reduction. Another chemical substance is now used that lasts longer and keeps the developing machines cleaner than before. This has considerably reduced the consumption and the waste. The general process waste has also declined strongly, due to an efficient use of materials, good separation of the waste flows and process efficiency. The volume of recyclable waste like paper, scrap metal and copper has dropped as a result of the reduced disposal of paper waste. This is partly caused by a decline in production, while better process management has led to a higher paper efficiency.
General process waste
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