Advancing VOC Emission Control in Tobacco (tipping & packaging) industries

Best Practices and Environmental Considerations

The Tobacco industry embraces several production steps, including tipping and packaging.

Tipping is a process where a small piece of material, typically made of paper or a similar material, is attached to the cut end of a tobacco product, such as a cigar or cigarette: this serves various purposes, including providing a convenient way for consumers to hold and smoke the product, protecting the mouth from direct contact with tobacco, and enhancing the overall appearance of the product.

After tipping, the tobacco products are packaged: the packaging can vary widely depending on the type of product and market preferences. For example, cigarettes are typically packaged in paperboard boxes or soft packs, while cigars are often packed in wooden boxes or tubes. Packaging may also include branding, labeling, and warning information, depending on local regulations.

Tipping and packaging in the tobacco industry are often produced using a printing process known as rotogravure printing: this printing method is widely used for high-quality, high-volume printing on various materials, including paper, plastic, and foil, making it suitable for creating the decorative and informative elements on tobacco products.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are emitted from a variety of industrial sources, including Tobacco (tipping & packaging) industries. VOCs are a major source of air pollution, contributing to air pollution, smog, and ground-level ozone formation. VOC emissions also show harmful effects on human health, causing respiratory problems and other health effects.

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VOC emission control is mandatory in several countries, with specific limits at the stack of every industry. In this document we will cover the specific needs and solutions for the Tobacco (tipping & packaging) sector.

The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) is a European Union directive that sets limits on VOC emissions from industrial processes. The IED includes a Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document (BREF) for the Tobacco (tipping & packaging) sector, which outlines the best practices for controlling VOCs.

The US Clean Air Act (CAA) is a federal law that regulates air pollution in the United States. The CAA includes a number of provisions that address VOC emissions.

There are a number of VOC emission control technologies that can be used in Tobacco (tipping & packaging) manufacturing, to comply with environmental regulations.

The most performing technologies include:

SRU™ • solvent recovery units

SRU, Solvent Recovery Unit (also known as SRP, Solvent Recovery Plant) is a gas phase VOC adsorption system, based on activated carbon, complete of onsite desorption technology, typically employed as VOC Emission Control, allowing to respect VOC emission limits with a typical efficiency up to 99%, while recovering the solvents for direct reuse, at a fraction of their purchase cost, generating a very interesting ROI (a sustainable technology and a true path to decarbonization). They can cover from small to large SLA (solvent laden air) volumes and deal with a wide variety of VOCs, including water-miscible, non-water-miscible solvents.

XTO™ • thermal oxidizers

RTO, Regenerative Thermal Oxidation works by burning VOCs at high temperatures in a closed combustion chamber: through the oxidation reaction VOCs are converted to GHG (green house gasses, CO2, NOX, CO, and H2O). The heat generated during the combustion process is then captured and used to preheat incoming air (SLA, solvent-laden air), which in turn reduces fuel consumption and enhances energy efficiency compared to traditional thermal oxidation methods. The multi-tower design of RTO allows for continuous operation. Please note that catalytic oxidation is generally not applicable in Tobacco (tipping & packaging), being the catalyst may be poisoned by some chemicals in the VOC emissions, which can make it quickly ineffective. Please note that catalytic oxidation is generally not applicable in Tobacco (tipping & packaging), being the catalyst could be poisoned by some compounds in the chemicals (e g. inks, varnishes, lacquers, adhesives, etc), which can make it quickly ineffective. Any thermal oxidation processes will dramatically contribute to increasing your GHG (green house gasses) emissions and your fuel consumptions.

conclusions

Selecting a VOC emission control technology that is appropriate for your specific needs and that will help you to comply with VOC emission regulations while minimizing the overall environmental impact (as VOCs and GHGs), avoiding any form of greenwashing. You have to consider different factors, including the type of VOCs being emitted (type of solvents used), the size of the facility (quantity of solvents used per year), the area available for the installation and the budget (CAPEX) constraints for the selected VOC abatement system.

However, even if all of the VOC Emission Control Technologies listed above are effective in complying with VOC regulations, only SRU, solvent recovery unit technology is aligning with both environmental compliance requirements and environmental responsibility. SRU, solvent recovery units offer a sustainable and efficient solution for DECarbonization and circular economy implementation. By capturing and reusing solvents that would otherwise be wasted, these VOC emission control systems not only reduce the environmental impact of the Tobacco (tipping & packaging) industries but also contribute to cost savings (ROI) and regulatory compliance. Compared to thermal oxidation systems, solvent recovery units demonstrate superior energy efficiency, reduced GHG emissions, versatility, and a commitment to long-term sustainability (reduced resource consumption). Embracing such innovative technologies is crucial for industries to meet their environmental goals, drive sustainability (economic growth and environmental stewardship), and pave the way for a greener future.

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