IGT Global Solutions is one of the world’s largest gaming solutions providers, focusing on the production of instant lottery tickets as well as other gaming solutions. The company received a 2019 FTA Sustainability Excellence Award in the Sustainability Programs category for implementing a volatile organic compound (VOC) reduction program in its flexographic printing operation, transitioning from using solvent inks to a full water-based ink system.
Multiple factors led IGT to start the VOC reduction program, including customers who were requesting less of an environmental impact from the company’s printing processes, increasing press efficiency, reducing operational costs and minimizing hazardous waste.
“The most positive impact is to the well-being of our employees and the environment,” says Richard Modawell, director security, quality and compliance at IGT. “Moving to a water-based platform helped improve the safety of our plant and, at the same time, we experienced a significant reduction in our VOC output and almost eliminated hazardous waste. It was important to us as a company to maintain the same feel and characteristic in the water-based system that we had in the solvent-based system.”
The transition to a water-based system took place in 2017. IGT had an existing multi-station flexographic printing press and was finalizing the installation of a second multi-station flexographic printing line with additional digital printing capabilities for producing instant lottery tickets at its facility in Lakeland, FL. The company set an objective to reduce VOC output that year and the next.
With the transition complete at the end of 2017, 2018 was IGT’s first full year using an all water-based system. “The transition covered about a two-year period as we developed a suitable all water-based product and completed our internal testing to ensure the required shelf life,” says Modawell.
“The challenges we faced were up front in the development of a product that had the same end characteristics as the solvent-based product,” he adds. “This part of the process was the most difficult and time consuming. The actual transition was simple, and the learning curve was very quick.”
Both flexographic printing lines were producing instant lottery tickets in early 2018. According to IGT, in addition to being engineered for full water-based inks, the servo-driven press offers optimized job changeover times, minimized material waste and increased print quality. As a result of the transition, the printer was able to reduce its VOC output in 2018 by 66 percent compared to 2015. IGT also says it generated no hazardous waste from its printing operation during the entirety of 2018. And going forward, every month there is a management review of the VOC reduction program to discuss its progress and results.
“IGT incorporated and embraced its customers’ goals and desires into its own culture,” notes Sustainability Excellence Award judge Dan Blackburn of Label Technology. “IGT had a systematic approach and follow-through that drove the achievable and desired results.”
“Sustainable systems can be defined as ongoing, incremental steps toward improvement actions and waste reductions,” adds Sustainability Excellence Award judge Dolores Corcoran of Lauterbach Group. “IGT demonstrated this in its one action to go from a solvent-based printing platform to a water-based platform.” She added that the printer’s VOC reduction and subsequent 40 percent sales growth was “phenomenal!”
IGT hopes its VOC reduction program can be reviewed by other organizations, in order to understand how alternative materials can reduce environmental impact. The company also worked closely with Kodak in its development of high-end graphic water wash to eliminate the use of solvents in its plate making process.
“We are very honored to be selected for this award,” says Modawell. “As part of IGT’s sustainability strategy, we continuously strive to improve our environmental management systems and to reduce our environmental impact. IGT views the FTA Sustainability Excellence Award as an important company achievement, as well as an industry-wide accomplishment.”