In 2017, Comexi began a long-term project the company will continue to develop and improve in the upcoming years. The first part of this project was a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of its F2 MC flexographic press, which examined the environmental, social and economic impacts of the machine in order to make across-the-board improvements, as well as promote healthier working conditions.
It was this LCA, as well as Comexi’s efforts to create a press that addressed sustainability on every level, that earned the company a 2019 FTA Sustainability Excellence Award in the Innovations in Sustainability category.
LCA is a decision-making tool Comexi uses that acknowledges all the phases of a product’s environmental impact usage, and how that impact can be quantified and compared. The company uses LCA to differentiate designs and products that perform the same function. As a component of the LCA, Comexi calculated and improved the waste generation, electricity, natural gas and water consumption of the press, from its manufacturing all the way to the end of its use.
“The target of this analysis is to identify our environmental impact of the whole life cycle of the F2 MC flexo machine, from ‘cradle to grave,’” explains Olof Buelens, VP Comexi North America Inc.
The next steps in the long-term project include extending the LCA to Comexi’s other presses.
“During the start of this analysis, we realized quickly that Comexi did not have enough data about the environmental impact of our machines to satisfy our customers’ needs,” Buelens admits. “Thanks to this project and the analysis which was done, we have more detailed data, in terms of environmental impact.”
Comexi says the data collection has yielded environmental improvements in every aspect of the machine’s use, such as waste reduction, identifying more clearly the elements and stages with the greatest carbon footprint, reducing the composition of natural resources, and using more sustainable chemical alternatives. In addition, when the press is no longer in use, 100 percent of its metal compounds are recycled, while the other components are incinerated or landfilled without recovery.
“Thanks to this analysis, the machines have an improved, eco-friendly design, giving the product a complete circular economy as well as providing an improved and minimal environmental impact, considering the whole lifecycle,” says Buelens.
Sustainability Excellence Award judge Dolores Corcoran of Lauterbach Group says that Comexi’s F2 MC press was “designed with sustainability at its core,” adding that “The Comexi F2 project team truly validates their environmental sustainability actions and what it means to apply and use the LCA platform during product development.”
Comexi says a bonus of the LCA is that the project has allowed it to strengthen internal cooperation between its divisions. In addition to the engineering departments, other areas of the company, such an sustainability, procurement, marketing, as well as the technical and operational teams, have also been involved.
“Comexi’s internal sustainability initiative and drive is a testament and statement to the flexographic industry and to its competitors,” says Sustainability Excellence Award judge Dan Magallanes of Kodak.
“With this process, we will reduce several impacts including: global warming, ozone layer depletion, photochemical oxidation, eutrophication and human health,” says Buelens. “The aim of Comexi is to progressively increase the knowledge of the environmental impact of our entire range of products on the environment, with the objective of minimizing these impacts, and allowing for compatibility between industrial businesses and the environment.”