WLO-Cert, the Certification for the Emission Reduced Waterless Offset

Hereafter please find the Statement of the BG-ETEM (before German Berufsgenossenschaft Druck & Papier Wiesbaden), to this Certification:



Environmental protection, especially the reduction of emissions, is of increasing importance in our society. One of the most important objectives concerning the efforts of the European environmental policy is to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds. At the same time waste should be avoided (respectively reduced) and resources should be protected. That is why industrial processes have to reduce harmful substances to a minimum.

In offset printing, you have two problematic components: The first one is the use of washing and cleaning agents. The development of powerful printing machines caused higher solvent emissions. Health problems because of polluted air came up as well as fire prevention problems. To solve these problems the use of low evaporating solvents was a step into the right direction in 1995.

The second problem is the emission from damping solution which is used in wet offset. Isopropanol (IPA, Isopropyl alcohol) is added to damping solution in many offset printing plants and is regarded as ‘can’t-do-without’ additive for printing quality and stability. IPA is detrimental to health which is known and has been discussed upon for several times. Disturbances can hit the central nervous system. Headaches, problems in concentration or even disorientation can occur. In extremely high concentration, IPA can also damage liver and kidney. Based upon these facts, the legislator decreased the permissible concentration of IPA in the air and regulated the quantity of IPA in damping solution.

Further aspects when using IPA are preventive measures for protection from fire and explosions. IPA is a volatile organic compound with a low flashpoint. IPA contributes to smog close to the ground in summer as well as to the extension of the ozone layer. That is why one has to support and intensify the search for technical solutions. On the one side you find good results by reducing the amount of IPA in the damping solution but on the other side, many printing plants still use too much IPA.

The so-called waterless offset gives an inherent and decisive advantage. The lack of alcoholic damping systems of course means no resulting emissions from there. Other problems like preservation of damping solution (biocide), pollution of water and the dispose of polluted damping solution don’t appear either. You can say that waterless offset printing would solve the problems resulting in the use of IPA in one fell swoop.

Certificate “Emission tested”

The Berufsgenossenschaft Druck und Papierverarbeitung (BG; German institution for statutory accident insurance and prevention in the printing and paper processing industry) was one of the first institutions in graphic industry who put its focus on the topic of “Reduction of emissions”. Our main interest is to reduce emissions which can be seen in our initiative “Industry wide agreement for the reduction of solvent emissions in offset printing” for example.

The printer gets confronted with emissions every day, may it be powder or solvents or physical things like noise and radiation. The air to breath gets polluted and the printing machines get dirty.

Optimising the printing process by using improved and emission reduced printing machines is a big step to help finding a solution for this problem.

The BG has been promoting emission reduced technologies for over 5 years now and awards the “BG-PRÜFZERT Emission tested” to exemplary solutions in graphics industry by the Test and Certification Body of the Expert Committee Printing and Paper Converting.

How to meet the demands of the certificate

To receive the certificate “Emission tested” the following things must be proven:

The printing machine has to be constructed and used in a emission reduced way regarding solvents in cleaner, damping solution, ink, varnish, powder, ozone, UV-radiation and noise. The emissions must be clearly below the lowest valid limits or suggestions of the several countries in the EU.

During the examination several test prints are run on paper and carton in order to get to know which applications fulfil the requirements. Standard ink, UV-ink and special colours as well as hybrid colours can be used. Water varnish and UV curing varnish are also tested.

The certificate then provides a survey of which applications (on the particular printing machine) were tested successfully. Aspects of safety engineering also have an influence on the test results. If one fulfils the requirements of the certificate "Emission tested" also depends on whether the safety regulations (GS examination) are observed or not.

The EWPA (European Waterless Printing Association) - the association promoting waterless offset - also wants to reduce the emissions coming up in offset printing. Because of this reason the EWPA awards the sign ”Emission Reduced Waterless Offset – ERWLO” to emission reduced printing machines. In order to receive this sign it has to be certified by the Test and Certification Body of the Expert Committee Printing and Paper Converting that European safety standards as well as reduction of emissions are met according to the requirements of the certificate BG-PRÜFZERT “Emission tested”.

Health protection is environmental protection – and vice versa

Not only authorities but customers expect active environmental protection of modern printing plants. Printing machines with quality marks like BG-PRÜFZERT “Emission tested” are of big importance because they meet the technical qualifications.

The key to success is responsible action of the user. He has to be specially trained in order to select and use appropriate technical and chemical device.

Today, machines with BG-PRÜFZERT “Emission tested” are often called “eco-machines”. Eco stands for ecological and economical. Ecological because the printer is able to print emission-reduced. An economical advantage is, that because of the better technical conditions, the machines use the additives much more effective than before. Therefore costs for additives can be minimized. Higher profitability during the printing process is the consequence.

Health protection and environmental protection – performed correctly – protects, reduces costs and increases productivity.


Wiesbaden, December 2005

Referat Arbeitsstoffe, Telefon (0611) 131-326, Telefax (0611) 131-319

E-Mail chemie@bgdp.de, Internet www.bgdp.de