Pressing concerns lead to solvent solutions

A new environmentally-friendly solvent recycling system, the first of its kind to be installed in the UK, has produced 'sensational results' claims the Uckfield-based Beacon Press.

The company says that after only three months the system is already achieving significant cost savings and benefits for the environment. Beacon, with its reputation as a leading green company, was chosen to trial the technology by manufacturers Technotrans Graphics Ltd, and Mark Fairbrass, Beacon’s chairman, says it has been so successful that he anticipates it will pay for itself in little more than a year.

Tens of thousands of litres of solvent, a complex mineral oil based product containing emulsifier and corrosion inhibitors, are used by printing companies every year to clean rollers and cylinders. It is mixed with demineralised water and drops into a collection tank after use. From there the chemical cocktail is disposed of as hazardous waste, usually through a licensed disposal company.

The new recycling system results in the waste being pumped into a settling tank where its components – solvent, water and sediment – separate. The solvent goes through a filtering system and is then reusable almost indefinitely. The water is filtered until it becomes dramatically clear and is safe for disposal through the drainage system. The remaining sediment is cleaned out periodically for disposal.

Before installing the technology, Beacon were using about 13,000 litres of solvent and 7,000 litres of demineralised water each year and had to pay for the disposal of 16,000 litres of hazardous waste per annum – over 50 barrels a month. That was costing the company about £25,000 a year.

Cost savings

“We have had sensational results from this new technology and we estimate a saving of some £20,000 a year,” says Fairbrass, “It’s traditionally a horrible part of the printing process which nobody likes to know about. But this is a way to clean it up and make considerable cost savings. And with the huge reduction in hazardous waste achieved it represents great benefits for the environment. I can’t see how the rest of the industry can fail to adopt it because it makes such good economic and environmental sense.”

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