How to Recycling and Reuse in Screen Printing
Today is the fifth and final day in which we discuss ways to mitigate your environmental impact in a screen shop, in observance of Earth Day 2018.
While reducing your consumption of products is the ideal way to minimize your environmental impact, you are still in the manufacturing industry. There will be waste and there will be impact. Below are a few pointers on reusing and recycling/disposing of the products in your shop.
Okay so maybe you did mess up a couple shirts on your last order. What can you do with the botched shirt? Instead of throwing it away, you can use the shirt for test printing on future orders and then once it’s filled up with prints, cut it up and use it for shop rags. Cotton garments are very durable and make for great rags. If your print was good but there was a problem that made it so your customer wouldn’t accept it, try framing it to showcase your product.
What about excess ink? The small amount of ink on the bottom of a bucket, or the tiny bit you scraped off your screen? If it’s plastisol – take your waste and put it in a bucket. When it’s close to full, you can mix it up and get a shade of grey that you can use for prints – you can even promote it as an environmentally friendly way you’ve reduced ink waste! Gamblin, an artists’ oil paint manufacturer, makes a paint every year using the pigments from their filtration system that they give away as Torrit Grey.
Over time, stretch ‘n’ glue screens will pop or lose tension. You can extend the life of your screen by using it for one color jobs, but that will only last so long before the screen becomes unusable. Instead of tossing the screen, have the screen sent out for remeshing! Look for a local company that offers remeshing services, because the price of a remeshed screen is very close to the price of a brand new one – it is only economical if you don’t have to ship your screens. If you go through a lot of screens, it might be worth your while to bring remeshing in-house, or to invest in some retensionable Newman Roller Frames.
Many of the products you use in your screen shop day-to-day can’t be disposed of in regular trash. Look at your municipality’s rules and laws regarding disposal of all of your products. Often, plastisol must be cured before it can be discarded, emulsion must be dried, and solvent-soaked rags must be evaporated before they can be tossed. Make sure the products you are sending down the drain are drain-safe. Again, a good water filtration system will certainly mitigate your impact. You might also want to look into recirculating systems or even grey water systems to ensure you aren’t wasting potable water when you could be reusing the same water over and over again.
One common misconception is that water-based inks are more environmentally friendly than plastisols. While they can be, that is only assuming you are using the inks properly. Try to recapture as much ink as possible after printing with it, so that you are minimizing waste. Clean the screen as thoroughly as possible before reclaim – while the inks may be water soluble, the pigment and carriers in the ink might not be drain safe – indeed many of the particles are so small that they pass through fine filters without problems, ending up back in the water system.