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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Ulano Corporation

Ulano Corporation, Brooklyn, New York

Background

In 1945, Ulano Corporation was founded to manufacture stencil films and inks specifically formulated for screen-printing. Ulano developed leading-edge technology and became the industry leader in quality and consistency in manufacturing. Over the years, Ulano has grown from a small company to the world's largest completely integrated manufacturer of screen-printing stencil systems. They also manufacture chemicals used in screen-printing and masking films, which are used in many fields of the graphic arts industry. The company's headquarters are in Brooklyn, NY and they employ about 100 employees.

Methodologies and Procedures

Almost every product Ulano manufacturers is made for the commercial printing process known as screen-printing. In this process, ink is forced by a squeegee through a special fabric (mesh) stretched on a wood or metal frame and onto the surface to be printed. A film or emulsion (stencil material) is placed on the mesh to block the ink in certain areas according to the design. Where there is no stencil material on the mesh, the ink passes onto the printing surface. The main goal at Ulano was to reduce or eliminate the large amounts of hazardous waste generated at its two facilities, Site I and Site II in Brooklyn, NY. The objective was to reduce the high cost of disposal.

At Site I, the first step in the manufacture of pre-sensitized film is to coat the polyester film with a cement containing toluene and methyl ethyl ketone. Before 1989, most, if not all of the used cement remaining in the coating pan and the unused coating cement remaining in the 55 gallon drum was discarded as hazardous waste. Since that time, both cements (used or unused) are analyzed by Quality Control personnel and if found usable are replenished with a fresh blend of coating cement. This procedure eliminated discarding potentially reusable coating cement as hazardous waste.

In the second step of the coating process, the polyester film is coated with a solvent-based coating solution. Non-hazardous water-based emulsions were substituted for all hazardous solvent-based coating solutions, which contributed to a dramatic reduction in the generation of hazardous waste. The same cost-savings technique that was used in the first coating operation step was used in a similar final coating step. In all, hazardous waste generation decreased from 50,000 pounds in 1988 to 380 pounds in 2001 (a 99 percent decrease).

At Site II, several organic solvents are mixed in a 55-gallon drum to produce various blends of cements that are used in the first and third steps for coating polyester film. Under old procedures, solvents were pumped out of underground storage tanks to fill the drums and solvents remaining in the pipes were flushed out and collected in drums labeled hazardous waste. All the solvents went through a common pipe after passing through a manifold from the 18 underground storage tanks. It was assumed that the flushed and drained solvent blends were contaminated and could not be recovered. By analyzing the flushed blends and calculating and dispensing the amount of each solvent needed to correct it to the proper blend, Quality Control personnel decreased hazardous waste generation from 102,000 pounds in 1988 to 6,600 pounds in 2001 (a 94 percent decrease).

Benefits

By making changes in the production process, the following benefits were achieved:

  • At Site I, by replenishing coating cement instead of discarding it as hazardous waste and by substituting solvent-based coating solutions with water-based emulsions, Ulano went from a Large Quantity Generator (LQG) to a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG). This resulted in a savings of $108,356 since 1989 (94 percent decrease in hazardous waste generation).
  • At Site II, by replenishing coating cement instead of discarding it as hazardous waste, Ulano went from a Large Quantity Generator (LQG) to a Small Quantity Generator (SQG). This resulted in a savings of $317,125 since 1989 (94 percent decrease in hazardous waste generation).
  • Ulano decreased the amount of toluene processed by 86 percent, resulting in a savings of $145,467 since 1992.
  • Ulano decreased the amount of toluene released to the environment by 79 percent since 1992.
  • Ulano reduced the cost of purchasing raw materials by $195,000.
  • Ulano reduced the cost of disposing of hazardous waste by $498,000 while recovering usable hazardous process materials.

Any comments or questions?
Contact us at: 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1750;
518-402-9469 (phone); 518-402-9168 (fax)


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