Printech Archive
Re: Recycling of UV/EB Printstock

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Date: Thu Jan 20 2000 - 22:03:40 CST

There is some misconceptions regarding the recycling of printed matter that
has either been printed with UV cured inks or coated with UV cured coatings.
These types of printed products have always been recyclable if a lower grade
paper such as board for folding paper boxes, corrugated, tissue paper was to
be made. I classify this type of recycling as "downcycling".
The problem with UV cured printed matter lies in the manufacturing of paper
that is equal or better in grade than the paper being recycled or "upcycled".
I think the most dramatic improvement in 'upcycling" this paper is due to the
progress made by paper companies in adopting new technology for recycling paper.

Back in the early 1990's, the most common recycling technology used was
washing and screening. UV cured materials were not easily "upcycled" with
this approach. With the introduction of floatation cells into the recycling
process, UV cured materials could be "upcycled" more easily. As paper
companies have upgraded existing plants and built new ones in response to the
demand for recycled paper, floatation has become more popular and the problem
with UC cured printed matter has diminished quite dramatically. Essentially,
floatation cells are used to bubble air through the repulped and screened
fiber. Large particles such as UV cured materials adhering to the fiber is
carried to the surface of the pulp and is removed.

It is interesting that this was never an issue in Europe where flotation was
adopted before it became popular in the US. It is also interesting to note
that paper printed via water-based flexography is not readily recyclable with
the floatation technology. The paper companies are working to improve this,
but to the best of my knowledge, it has not been resolved.

Gary Jones
Graphic Arts Technical Foundation
200 Deer Run Road
Sewickley, PA 15143
412/741-6860 x608 - Phone
412/741-2311 - Fax

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