Agfa, Fuji Lessen Landfills’ Impact

By: E&P Staff

Within a month of each other, two of the largest printing plate manufacturers announced efforts to reduce the environmental impact of landfills in the United States and the United Kingdom. Fujifilm will divert a greenhouse gas for use as boiler fuel, while Agfa Graphics has created a cleaner waste stream.

In late June, Fujifilm said it will use methane from a local landfill to power approximately 40% its manufacturing complex in Greenwood, S.C., where Fujifilm Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc. operates five plants, a lab and Fujifilm’s largest distribution center.

By arrangement with Greenwood County and Methane Credit LLC, the gas will be extracted from the landfill, piped to the Fujifilm complex, and used in two of the facility’s four boilers. The approximately 197 billion BTUs of methane-generated energy supplied by the landfill annually equals the energy used to heat more than 5,000 homes.

“This landfill gas-to-energy project will help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 10%, will significantly reduce our energy costs, and will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” Johnny Udo, the operation’s director of environmental, health and safety said in a statement. In the process, the project captures what will otherwise be methane emissions, “which are more than 20 times more damaging to the ozone than carbon dioxide.”

According to Fujifilm, the amount of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions avoided annually by the project will be comparable to that generated by 208,000 barrels of oil or equal to the emissions from more than 17,000 vehicles.

Greenwood County faced an Environmental Protection Agency deadline to reduce or eliminate the landfill’s methane emissions. In the absence of Fujifilm’s corporate citizenship, said County Council Chairman Robbie Templeton, “the county’s other option was to flare, or burn-off, the gas at the landfill.”

The methane project is among several measures the company has taken toward sustainable development, including environmentally sensitive product design, reduced packaging materials and greenhouse gas emissions, and the pursuit of new fuels. Fujifilm said it aims by 2010 to have cut energy consumption at its large manufacturing facilities by 10% from 1999 numbers, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 1990 levels.

Yesterday, Belgium’s Agfa announced that Agfa Graphics has won first prize in a national competition sponsored by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in the United Kingdom.

Honored for leadership in environmental excellence, the Leeds plate production plant won the MX Arup Award for Sustainable Manufacturing for improving its treatment of waste by 98.5%, virtually eliminating waste headed to a landfill.

Agfa found a production method that decreases the amount of acidic waste produced in the making of the aluminum printing plates. The new method creates a more easily soluble waste, and cleaner results.

Recent environmental initiatives at the Leeds facility were part of a 10-year plan to cut the costs of energy and raw materials. The facility is one of several plants around the world where digital printing plates are manufactured by electrochemically processing coils of aluminum to produce the plates’ substrate.

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