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Eco balance

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.

Explanatory notes to the 2013 charts:

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
Ecobalance, which is derived from a careful record of all inflows and outflows. It should be noted, however, that not all flows are easy to weigh. The release of volatile compounds from
certain formulations, for instance, has to be assessed from a given percentage evaporation. In such cases we have to rely on theoretical and empirical knowledge, such as that presented in
the Information Sheet L33 Air, “Solvent Resolution” by InfoMil, verified as far as possible by tests and measurements made on the shop floor.
The data relate to the energy and water consumed in business operations, and the materials used in the production process. The Input side of the Ecobalance records the raw materials,
ancillaries and process materials, while the Output consists of products and wastes (solid waste, waste water, emissions), all insofar as they relate directly to the RSG production plants
in the Netherlands. Naturally, indirect environmental aspects are also involved, such as the production of materials that RSG purchases, or the processing of waste streams from the plants.
However, environmental burdens that occur elsewhere in the chain do not firm part of the Ecobalance and are not shown in the data below. This does not, incidentally, means that RSG’s
concern starts only after purchase, nor that it stops after the waste has been removed. RSG is active in other parts of the chain as it imposes demands on suppliers and waste processors,
and educates its business contacts. Care like this also forms part of the ISO 14001 environmental management system. The presentation shows the 2012 data in every case accompanied by data from the four previous years. Data for different years cannot be simply compared. Changes of production volume naturally influence both input and output. For that
reason, all absolute consumption and emission data have been recalculated in terms of quantities per ton of paper that passed through the presses.

Nearly all consumption data show a relatively negative trend. This is due to the fact that all data are expressed in terms of kilograms of paper consumed. Recent years have seen sizes and print runs decline, with fewer titles and a shift to lighter paper substances. This influences the relationship with the consumption of raw materials, ancillaries and process chemicals. The use of lighter weight papers - which means that the number of kilograms drops – ‘disturbs’ the trend in the index values.
In absolute terms, the plants have once again achieved good results.


Compared to 2012 the ink consumption has risen slightly. This was due to a change in an order package which involved greater ink coverage at the rotogravure plants and the sheetfed plants. The sheetfed plants are processing smaller quantities, and in the past year have used more ink-absorbing types of paper and more lacquer finishing at a customer’s request. This means a break with previous years in which ink consumption, in particular by monitoring through measurement systems, is decreased. The rotogravure presses use a GMI system, which employs a photospectrometer to continuously measure the printed paper web. The inking system is managed fully automatically according to predefined density standards. The sheetfed presses use the InktStar system, which replenishes the ink in measured doses, thus economizing on ink usage. Process optimization in the rotogravure plants is based on HP (High Performance) inks combined with changes in the engraving gradations. In the finishing departments the MEK (methylethylketone/ solvent-rich ink) for the inkjet printers has been replaced by a water-based ink, leading to a 60-70% reduction.



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.



Process materials include chemicals (broadly speaking one-third of the total mass), plates and the associated developer and fixer, cleaning cloths, cleansing agents and disposable packaging of products supplied to us. At the offset plants, achieving the IPA reduction target in recent years has led to a considerable drop in chemical consumption. The sheetfed plants are completely free of IPA, Senefelder Misset and Roto Smeets Weert are almost there. In just the past 10 years, the use of IPA has dropped by 75%. That this key index has not dropped further this year can be ascribed to additional cleaning of the press and a fault on the IPA dose meter at Roto Smeets Weert. The rotogravure plants reduced their use of process chemicals in 2013 (-37%) and of process materials like glue, adhesives and lubricants.



The water consumption has fluctuated somewhat in the past few years. This was primarily the result of weather conditions. The warm summer in 2013 led to an strong increase in the water consumption by the cooling systems. Here, too, the reduction in tonnage of processed paper is reflected in the key index. A cooling system runs continuously, even when printing has stopped. Waste water receives attention in all plants as part of their continuing effort to improve their production process. The water used in the plants for household purposes and the cooling towers does not come into contact with the production process and therefore remains free of the chemicals used. Most important is the waste water polluted by the production process in the RSG plants. All the waste water the plants discharge to the sewer receives additional final treatment in a waste water treatment plant, which means it complies with the permitted quality standards for waste water.



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


Hazardous waste

Recyclable waste

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