Textile printing and the environment


Given the large size of the printing industry, and the extraordinary volume of chemicals it consumes, it is not surprising that it also generates a significant amount of pollution.  Gaseous emissions have been identified as the second greatest pollution problem (after effluent quality) for the textile industry - and these are largely generated in printing. Speculation concerning the amounts and types of air pollutants emitted from textile operations has been widespread but, generally, air emission data for textile manufacturing operations are not readily available. Air pollution is the most difficult type of pollution to sample, test, and quantify in an audit.  According to the U.S. EPA, the printing industry releases 99% of its total Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) poundage to the air, while the remaining one percent of releases are split between water and land disposal. This release profile differs significantly from other TRI industries which average approximately 60% to air, 30% to land, and 10% to water release respectively. Average VOC emissions per textile print line are 130 Mg (tons)/year for roller and 29 Mg/year for flat and rotary screen.

In 1995, more than 41 million pounds of toxic compounds were transferred or released into the environment by the printing industry in the United States alone.  The table below shows some of the  polluting chemicals used by the textile printing industry.  All ten are petroleum-derived. Read more

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