If there is an industry that may benefit a lot from switching to more environmentally friendly products and processes, it's the screen printing industry. While creating colorful tees and sweatshirts is a form of art, the process can generate a lot of waste and involves the use of chemicals that are harmful to human health. If you've thought about making your shop greener but not sure where to start, here are three tips that can help.
Start Simple with a Basic 3-R Program
You don't have to completely overhaul everything in your shop right out of the gate. The simplest thing you can do is implement a 3-R program: recycle, reduce, and reuse as much as possible. One of the biggest issues affecting the environment is waste that ends up in landfills, so anything you can do to minimize the amount of stuff you throw in the trash is a good first step.
For instance, the containers you ink comes in are typically recyclable, and you can reuse them to hold other items like screen tape, mesh pads, and spatulas. If you clean them out well enough, you can give them out for free to other people and companies in the community to use for their own projects and storage needs. Additionally, buying frequently used inks in bigger quantities can help minimize the number of containers you receive in the first place.
Look around your shop for ways to implement the basic 3 Rs. You'll probably find you'll save money as well as reduce your company environmental impact.
Consider Switching to Water-Based Inks
Another thing you can do is switch from plastisol to water-based ink. While there is a little bit of a controversy as to whether water-based ink is really greener than plastisol, there's no denying that you don't have to use as many solvents and chemicals when you use water-based inks. Not only does this reduce the number of pollutants that find their way into the air and water, but it makes the shop much safer for you and your employees—since they won't have to work in a toxic chemical cloud all day.
However, water-based inks have their own challenges that may increase costs in other places. For instance, one problem with water-based inks is they may dry too quickly. Some companies that use them report the inks will sometimes dry on the screen during long print runs. One option for overcoming this is to increase the ambient humidity in the printing room by installing a humidifier, especially if your shop is located in a dry area. Running a humidifier, though, may increase your water and energy costs.
It's a good idea to take a class on using water-based inks or talk to a knowledgeable person so you can get an idea of all the challenges involved with using them, which can help you make the adjustments needed to integrate these inks in your shop.
Improve Water Filtration
The last thing you can do is improve the water filtration in your shop, especially if you use an automatic screen cleaner. Particulates from the chemicals and inks you use end up in water that goes to the sewer system. Not only can this be problematic for the environment, but it may cause clogs in your pipes, which can lead to a big plumbing bill down the road.
To avoid these issues, it's a good idea to invest in a filtration system that will remove the particulates and screen out some of the chemicals. This will help eliminated clogs and let you dispose of the particulates in a more environmentally friendly manner.
For more information on greening your screen printing shop or to purchase equipment and supplies, contact a screen printing supply company through resources like http://www.schillinggraphics.com.