"INGRAIN™ is designed to be environmentally friendly replacement for"
The Environmental Impact of INGRAIN™ Performance Laminates Introduction For many years, furniture makers, interior designers and architects have used beautiful exotic woods to make design statements. These woods from tropical rainforests and temperate hardwood forests are becoming scarcer. Rising demand and reduced supply have resulted in more extreme methods being used to harvest the trees. Major environmental consequences have resulted and some species are nearing extinction. In response to price pressures, manufacturers resorted to applying thin veneers of exotic woods over more readily available lumber. This has reduced the pressure on many exotic trees, but the demand still drives harvesting of trees in more remote areas. DECO Technologies saw a need to develop veneered products that meet three basic requirements: • Produce ultra-realistic exotic and common wood surfaces that harm no trees in their production. • The veneers must be shapeable and formable in ways that are impossible for wood based products. • Must be environmentally friendly, having a high recycled content and be recyclable at the end of its own life. We believe we have met our goals. Product Function INGRAIN ™ is designed to be environmentally friendly replacement for wood veneer in many interior and exterior applications. The product is a high tech combination of ultra realistic, wood free artwork, recycled aluminum, steel and fiberboard substrates and advanced, non-polluting laminating technology. INGRAIN™ can be used in it’s flat form for large areas with the added bonus that in the event of fire, it has a Class A Fire Rating with low flame spread and low smoke generation. INGRAIN™ is designed for shaping and forming operations not possible with real wood, high and low pressure laminates and other pre-finished metal products. For example, INGRAIN™ can be bent, stamped, drawn and roll formed without damage to the decorative surface or delamination. Environmental Considerations In designing INGRAIN™, we sought to employ materials and processes that would have the smallest impact on the environment possible. That meant maximizing the recycled content of our raw materials, minimizing the possibility of pollution during processing and enabling end of product life recycling. To this end, we focused on achieving the maximum post consumer recycled content possible. The primary metallic substrate of INGRAIN™ is aluminum - the most recycled metal in the world. More specifically, we selected AA3015 as the standard substrate because of its 100% post consumer scrap content. Recycling aluminum saves over 95% of the energy required to produce it from bauxite. When steel, is used, the grades selected are the highest recycled content available. To achieve the best possible veneer bond, the pretreatment selected for the aluminum substrate is a proprietary process that does not involve the use of chromium or any of its salts or any other toxic compounds. The laminating process uses non-polluting, solvent free, non-VOC technology where the equipment can be cleaned with nothing stronger than water. The decorative layer is a composite of micro-encapsulated polyvinylchloride and polyester. Both of these polymers have excellent long-term stability and are relatively inert. At the end of its useful life, it is anticipated that products made from INGRAIN™ will be recycled to recover their metal content. Under these circumstances, INGRAIN™ can be reborn and does not go to waste. What about Dioxin? Mentioning polyvinylchloride (PVC) sets off environmental alarms with many people because of the polymers’ association with dioxin. This is a subject that requires thorough examination. On the surface, the use of PVC, even in an encapsulated form, may seem a violation of DECO Technologies’ commitment to the environment. A review of the various studies conducted in the last twenty years leads us to believe that we are not harming the environment and in fact, on balance are being responsible with regard to dioxin emissions. Dioxins are a family of long-lived, chlorinated aromatic organic compounds. Some of these compounds are extremely toxic. They are produced during combustion processes and are all naturally occurring. The family consists of approximately 75 compounds that are classified as dioxins and furans. The most toxic and most studied family member is 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-para-Dioxin or TCDD. Structurally, TCDD is two cyclohexane (benzene) rings held together by two oxygen atoms and two chlorine atoms added to each of the benzene rings in the 2 and 3 and 7 and 8 locations. The other dioxins vary in the number of chlorine atoms attached – from one to eight – and their attachment locations. Furans are similar except the benzene rings are held together by one, not two oxygens. There are seven toxic dioxins and ten toxic furans. There is a range in toxicity of 10,000 times from the least to the most. To make data meaningful, this range is used to factor the total toxicity of a mixture to the toxic equivalent of TCDD - the TEQ1. This adjustment is made by multiplying the mass of each dioxin or furan by its relative toxicity and adding the contributing values together to get the toxic equivalent to the same mass of TCDD. The US EPA uses grams-TEQ to report emissions of dioxins and furans from known sources to the open environment. This data is published in the EPA’s Inventory of sources of Dioxin in the United States. Any time organic substances are burned in the presence of chlorine, dioxins have the opportunity of forming. Chlorine is ubiquitous in the environment. Many biological processes rely on chlorine to function – the human nervous system relies on chlorine to conduct electrical impulses and digestion would be impossible without the hydrochloric acid our stomachs secrete. This means that any time organic substances are burned, chlorine is present and dioxins can form. Table 1 - Dioxin Emission Sources Over Time (g-TEQ)2 Category 1987 % 1995 % 2002/4 % Commercial Incineration 11,478 82 1,758 54 37 3 Backyard Barrel Burning 604 4 628 19 628 56 Metal Smelting 955 6 301 9 35 3 Cement Kilns 131 0.94 173 5 25 2 Land Applied Sewage Sludge 76 0.55 76 2 76 6 Pulp and Paper 372 2.67 23 0.71 15 1 Coal Fired Utilities 50 0.36 60 1 60 5 Industrial Wood Burning 26 0.19 27 0.85 27 2 Residential Wood Burning 89 0.64 62 1 35 3 Diesel Trucks 27 0.20 35 1 35 3 Other 137 0.98 103 3 100 9 Total 13,949 100 3252 100 1106 100 Fortunately, it is not what is burned; it is how it is burned that is important. Uncontrolled fires are the most problematic. This includes forest fires and residential backyard burning barrels. In fact, the EPA estimates for 2002, of the 1,108 grams-TEQ released to the environment by human activity, 56% or 628 grams came from back yard burning barrels! This is now the largest source of dioxin emission in the USA. Table 1 shows the US dioxin emission sources. Dioxin emissions peaked in the early 1970’s with deposition rates estimated at 37pg/cm2/yr TEQ (pg = picogram i.e. 0.000000000001gram). With new regulation and technology, particularly in the areas of municipal, medical and toxic waste incineration, by 1995 emissions had been reduced to an estimated 11pg/cm2/yr, a 70% reduction3. Since 1995, emissions from human activity have dropped by an additional two thirds. It is worth noting that in the same 1970 to 1995 period, the Vinyl Institute reports that US vinyl production has increased from 3 billion pounds /yr to 16 billion pounds/yr, a more than 500% increase. According to the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), humans are exposed to less dioxin now than at any time in the last 50 years. For people born in 1950, the highest exposure years were the early 1970’s. At that time, the average levels of dioxins stored in body fat were about 15 pg/g of lipids. To day, the average dioxin lipid level is about 2pg/g (2 parts per trillion) and in the latest CDC study, over 50% of people tested had no detectable dioxin like compounds in their system4. It is interesting to examine the dioxin emissions from the production of commonly used engineering materials. Table 2 shows 1995 EPA data for open environment emissions. As can be seen, the production of PVC and ethylene dichloride (EDC), the precursor to the vinyl chloride monomer, contribute the least dioxin to the open environment. Table 2. Dioxin Emissions to the Environment from the Production of Common Engineering Materials5 Material I-TEQDF grams PVC & EDC 11.2 Recycled steel 60.5 Recycled aluminum 27.4 Wood products 26.2 Total 125.3 Aluminum recycling of post consumer scrap also fares well in spite of contaminated scrap sources such as used beverage containers and shredded automobile scrap. The wood industry is interesting. In processing lumber, much of the energy is provided by burning the bark and other mill scrap. This activity releases more than 2 times the amount of dioxin to the environment than the vinyl industry. Based on the data, it can be argued that using more INGRAIN™ and less wood based products, dioxin emissions can be reduced. Conclusion DECO Technologies strives to be environmentally friendly. INGRAIN™ embraces our environmental position. It maximizes recycled content and uses technology that minimizes environmental harm and at the same time, saves trees. References 1. www.trifacts.org/teq_tm17/index.php 2. www.dioxinfacts.org/sources_trends/sources.html 3. “Dioxin: Summary of the Dioxin Reassessment Science” Information Sheet 1, US EPA, June 12, 2000 4. www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/dioxinfuran/pdf/polychlorinated_1.pdf 5. Exposure and Human Health Reassessment of 2,3,7,8- Tetrachlorodibenzene-p-Dioxin (TCDD) and Related Compounds. US EPA September 2000 For further information, please contact: DECO Technologies Inc. 4633 Patterson Ave Suite A-1 Grand Rapids, MI 49512 616-719-5104 Mon-Fri 8am-5pm EST