How To Recycle Screen Printing Film Positives
As you probably know, we’re pretty passionate about eco-friendly screen printing here at Ryonet. So passionate that recently we launched a sister business, Allmade, to provide you with a better choice in blank t-shirts. We’ve blogged pretty extensively about environmentally-safe practices you can employ to reduce your impact. But one topic we haven’t spent much time on is what to do with your old film positives.
Ryonet customer Brent Allman from Commonwealth Press, a dedicated and passionate screen printing shop in Pittsburgh, recently was faced with that very questions when he found a pile of boxes filled to the brim with old film positives. Like most screen printing shops, Commonwealth Press had been practicing the art of saving their film positives for reprints, sometimes for years.
“What you may not know is that every job at CWP requires multiple film positives to create the stencil to print your artwork. Early on as a business, we would catalog these films in case the customer were to want to rerun the art at a later date. As time passed, it became apparent that too much time, effort and resources were being used to preserve the integrity of these films for a very low number of reruns. At that point, the decision was made to print new films for all but a small select number of jobs and dispose of the films after the jobs were completed.
As with many supplies in the screen printing industry, our film comes in bulk rolls with no instructions, no recycling stamp, and not much for a label. So, I got a hold of the manufacturer to find out what the films were constructed from. They told me it was Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET, sometimes PETE) with a light coating to accept ink, and it was easily recyclable. After talking with a few materials recyclers, I found out that no one was going to pay us to take these boxes off our hands. I turned to the Pittsburgh Public Works Recycling Division for answers. They were very helpful and said they would be more than happy to accept this material with our weekly recycling as long as it was labeled.
We made arrangements for them to accept the unlabeled materials after they were bagged and the bags were labeled with the #1PETE symbol so the sorters would know the contents of the bags. Going forward, we were going to have to label each of our films to avoid confusion at the sorting center. I approached our artist and asked him to incorporate the #1PETE recycling symbol into our art template so every film we printed would be easily identifiable and could just be thrown into any recycling container and eventually made into future products.”
Commonwealth Press’s commitment to reducing their environmental footprint is a growing mindset in our industry. The past few years have seen an increased demand for greener practices, eco-friendly chemicals, and water-based inks from customers and printers alike.
If you’re interested in going green, why not take it one step further? Take a look at the rest of your waste bin’s contents and let us know what you come up with!
To Recycle Film Positives:
- Find a recycler. If they recycle plastic, they recycle #1PETE. It’s the most common and simple plastic to recycle.
- Add a recycling symbol to your art template, or somewhere on all your films. (You can always tape over it for printing)
- Dispose of these films in the proper bin along with other plastic recyclables.
Thanks to Commonwealth Press for this great advice!