Louis Chertkow closed his May 8 Perspective (``Makrauer's living on the air in Cincinnati'') with an admirable Chinese proverb: ``Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from a friend's forehead.'' His comments about me, however, brought Voltaire's admonition to my mind: ``Defend me from my friends; I can defend myself from my enemies.'' Chertkow, too, has a lot to learn about printing regulations and the solutions to existing with them. Perhaps by jointly sharing our opinions and helping stimulate new technologies, we both - and our industries - can jointly benefit.
What I found refreshing was the positive difference about technological progress reflected in his comments vs. those of some of the California converters quoted in the Plastics News' March 27 front-page article [``Water-based inks strain California's converters''].
First, though, it is not ``easy ... to sit in Cincinnati and write about ... water-based ink technology.'' It's damned tough, because this area, too, is nonattainment, and the regulations here to date have been increasingly rigorous. If they are not as irrational as the regs in Los Angeles, perhaps there are some good reasons why.
For example, it's hard for me to accept that ``it was the [Southern California] air quality regulatory agencies and ink manufacturers that pushed printers into using [1,1,1 trichloroethane] technology when water-based inks did not perform adequately.'' At least one ink industry giant has absolutely refused as a matter of policy to formulate inks with that material due to its toxicity characteristics. That's just one of the reasons U.S. EPA finally banned its use.
Something tells me that certain L.A. printers were somewhere in the mix, pleading for its use. I can't recall ever hearing that an ink company was ever able to ``push'' a printer - a customer - into doing anything that the printer didn't want topull his ink company into supplying. It just doesn't make sense.
Worse, though, if the air quality regulators really ``pushed printers'' to use trichlor, this confirms to those of us outside California (as well as those inside) that the regulatory process there is out of control. It's reminiscent of California's regulatory process on recycled content and environmental marketing, and just another of many reasons why manufacturers in several industries have pulled out of California or shut down. It's why others of us who receive solicitations from California economic development offices just laugh (or puke) at the invitations to open facilities there.
The rest of the country has been able to effectively attain increasingly cleaner air by a regulatory process and compliance approach that seems quite different from the West Coast maelstrom, and more productive.
The California Film Extruders & Converters Association's agreement ``that industry solidarity is necessary to force the development of better products'' is a good start, but their air quality policy does little more than say that its members will obey the law. It needs more guts. Yet it does sound differentfrom what was implied by their March 27 comments.
However, productive solidarity goes way beyond just California printers working just with ink companies, because it's far more than just ink and printing presses that cause the problems. Everyone acknowledges, for example, that the bloomed slip additive is the major water ink bad actor for low and linear low density films. Well, what if the polarity or some other property of slip additives could be modified to make them more compatible with existing water-based ink resins? Shouldn't the slip additive supplier be invited to the solutions table?
What if a new low or linear low density film resin could be developed that had the surface characteristics of high density PE that did not require any slip additive in the first place? Shouldn't the PE resin supplier be invited to the solutions table? What if a water-based ink resin for plastic films could be made that was not ammonia sensitive because it wasn't based on an acrylic, amine-sensitive ink resin? Shouldn't builders of nonamine ink materials be invited?
And, if the scope of the technology problem is objectively identified and quantified, what if reasonable regulators are invited to the table? They could see that industry is working hard and committing resources to prevent pollution at the source - not just complaining about regulations to clean up afterward.
Also, shouldn't printing press and plate manufacturers be invited? And the solutions table should extend - because the problems and opportunities extend beyond just California.
Based on his comments about mutual efforts, I believe I can work collegially with Louis Chertkow and his forward-looking CFECA members to build the power necessary to identify the ways to address this technology problem. The Plastic Bag Association has been working on this issue, too. I appreciate Plastics News giving the industry this opportunity to dialogue and build.
Think of the power in re-sources that such an industry might muster to address this technology problem. Think of the power in new ideas that might come from creative engineers and scientists brought to the shop floor. Think of the power the industry might force into new technology advances.
As fellow film printers, we should keep this issue and ourselves in perspective, and be mindful that the power of the waterfall is nothing but a lot of drips working together.
Makrauer is president and chief executive officer of Amko Plastics Inc. in Cincinnati and former president of the Plastic Bag Association.