March 13, 2014
Wallpaper is used in houses across the world as an aesthetic decorating device. In most residential spaces vinyl wallpaper is preferred because of its durability and affordability. The life cycle of vinyl wallpaper production includes many processes in order to manufacture, distribute, install, and remove wallpaper. The manufacturing process includes paper production to produce the backing, PVC production to make the vinyl coating, and solvent ink manufacturing to allow the fusion of ink and plastic to take place. The distribution process includes packaging and shipping. The instillation process offers a variety of options in adhesives and primers while the removal process can be done using various techniques. To determine the raw materials that go into the production of wallpaper, each of these stages will be taken into consideration. However, because of the strong use of chemicals in the instillation and removal processes it has been difficult to determine how wallpaper adhesives, primers, and strippers are made and therefore the options are explored but the details of production are lacking.
Vinyl wallpaper production starts with a paper backing. I could not find the specific paper used in wallpaper manufacturing however because multiple sources refer to it simply as “paper” I will work off the assumption that it is wood paper. The main raw materials used in wood paper production are trees and water. Paper is mainly “made from the cellulose fibres that are present in hardwood and softwood trees” (Berlow). The first step in paper production is making pulp.
This is done by taking the bark off the tree and then chipping the log into a slurry. The slurry “is run through a pulp mill where chlorine dioxide and oxygen are added to separate the lignin (which cements the woody cell walls together) from the rest of the wood pulp and bleaches the pulp” (Bryk). The pulp is then put through a process called “beating” and at this point “various filler materials can be added” (Berlow); these additives can influence various qualities of the paper (Figure 1). The pulp is then put on a moving belt of fine mesh screening and squeezed through a series of rollers, removing water before being dried.
The next step in the production of vinyl wallpaper is coating the paper backing, on one side, with PVC. PVC is the main ingredient and it is a polymer that consists of 57% chlorine and 43% hydrocarbons, meaning it mainly comes from two primary raw materials salt, which provides chlorine, and fossil fuels, which produce ethylene. Salt is a mineral composed of sodium chloride (NaCI) and can be extracted from sea water or mined in order to provide the chlorine source. To remove the natural element chlorine salt is subjected to electrolysis, which separates the chlorine gas from hydrogen gas and a solution of sodium hydroxide (figure 2). Ethylene is a hydrocarbon obtained mainly from crude oil or natural gas. Hydrocarbons exist in both crude oil and natural gas; however, ethene (ethylene) is found in neither, it results from a chemical change and the physical separation through the process of fractional distillation. Distillation is followed by steam (thermal) cracking, the process of converting alkanes to alkenes, and liquefaction of the gas before further distillation resulting in ethylene. There have also been developments in producing ethylene from alternative, more environmentally responsible sources. With depleting resources of crude oil, bioethylene made from sugar cane is being explored as an alternative. The raw materials for production are sugar cane and water. The “process itself consists in dehydrating ethanol obtained from fermented and distilled sugarcane juice. Ethanol is evaporated, superheated and fed into a catalytic reactor to break into ethylene and water” (Martinz and Quadros). (Figure 3)
Once chlorine and ethylene have been extracted they are combined to produce dichloride (EDC), which is processed into a gas called vinyl chloride (VCM) (The Vinyl Institute, 2). The next step is polymerization in which “the VCM molecules are converted into a fine, white powder- vinyl resin- which becomes the basis for the final process, compounding. In compounding, vinyl resin may be blended with additives such as plasticizers for flexibility, (and) stabilizers for durability” (The Vinyl Institute, 2). (Figure 4) These additives can account for “30% to 60% of PVC’s total weight” (Nakamura et al. 707) and after extensive research into exactly what these additives are I came up empty handed, therefore I will not be including the raw materials which these additives are made of. To apply PVC to the paper backing a mixture is made using PVC pellets or powder, water, stabilisers, the plasticiser dioctyl phthalate (DOP) and organic solvents. According to PVC.org these stabilisers are made of metal compounds and “the major metals contained in stabilisers are lead (Pb), barium (Ba), calcium (Ca), and tin (Sn).” The organic solvents used include methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), toluene (TOL), and cyclohexanone (ANONE), which help dissolve the PVC and thin out the mixture (Chang and Chiou, 3).
After the PVC has been applied to the paper it is ready for printing. Solvent based inks are used because they produce a better, more consistent color, they adhere well to PVC and when heated the ink becomes fused with the vinyl. Solvent based inks are “a colloidal system of fine pigment particles dispersed in a solvent” (Kunjappu). The raw materials that go into making pigments are vast because it is dependent on desired color and there are organic and inorganic options. The solvents used in inks are usually volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include a variety of chemicals. According to PNEAC.org, the Printers' National Environmental Assistance Center, the VOCs commonly found “in inks are ethanol, ethyl acetate, ethylene glycol, glycol esters, hexane, isopropanol, nmethanol, methyl ethyl ketone, mineral spirits, naphthas, normal propyl acetate, normal propyl alcohol, toluene and xylene.” Due to the number of chemical additives and solvents I was unable to find where these chemical compounds were extracted from or how they were produced.
Once the paper backed PVC is printed and the wallpaper is thoroughly dried it is rolled with a pre-pasted adhesive or it is shipped out as is. To pre-paste the wallpaper it “is rolled with a wet cornstarch or wheat starch-based coating and then dried” (Bryk). Cornstarch is made using the starch derived from corn and wheat starch is made from wheat. These starches are mixed with other additives to make a coating mixture. Unfortunately, I could not find what these additives were.
At the production facility wallpaper, either pre-pasted or unpasted, gets packaged with “a printed label, run number, and hanging instructions are placed against each roll and shrink wrapped together” (Bryk) before distribution. The packaging process uses paper, ink, and plastic; see above for paper and ink production materials.
Once wallpaper has been selected by the consumer the instillation process begins. Before the adhesive and wallpaper can be hung, a primer is used to prepare the wall surface. There are several types of wall covering primers including latex primer, oil-based primer, and tacky acrylic primer. Latex primer is produced using latex which is “a colloidal suspension of very small polymer particles in water” (Sheppard). Latex is primarily a synthetic material and is produced by chemical reactions. To make latex primer latex would be mixed with other ingredients. Oil-based primer is produced using an oil base along with additional ingredients. Acrylic primer is made with an acrylic base as well as other materials. To produce the base “acrylic plastic polymers are formed by reacting a monomer, such as methyl methacrylate, with a catalyst. A typical catalyst would be an organic peroxide” (Dorman and Cavette). I tried to find more information on the production of these primers however besides the base material however, I could not find what other additives were used.
After the wall is primed the wallpaper is ready to be hung. To activate the paste for the application of pre pasted wallpaper the wallpaper is soaked or moistened with water before hanging. There is an alternative to using water for pre-pasted wallpaper application referred to as pre-pasted activators. According to ARCOM and The American Institute of Architects the benefit of using pre-pasted activators are that they are “mold- and mildew-resistant adhesives, made specifically for pre pasted wallpapers.” I had a hard time tracking down the materials that went into these activators so I looked at what the Rust-Olleum brand pre-pasted activator was made of, according to their website it includes: resin, a synthetic polymer based activator, and a solvent, water.
For hanging wallpaper that has not been pre-pasted the consumer must either buy a powder that they can mix themselves or get a premixed paste. There are several options for wallpaper paste; however, the most common types include cellulose, clay premixed vinyl, and clear premixed vinyl adhesives. Cellulose paste is made from cellulose methyl ether “produced by treating cellulose from wood or cotton with an alkali such as sodium hydroxide, followed by methyl chloride”(FAO) and has a water content of about 97%. Clay premixed vinyl adhesive has a clay base, however I could not find what kind of clay is used for production, and has a water content of 40-50% (Kelly). Clear premixed vinyl is made from “natural polymers such as wheat and corn starch, or synthetic (man-made) polymers. The polymers are cooked with heat or by chemical means, changing the molecules from long-chain to short-chain in the process. Other additives may include cellulose, biocides and flow agents” (Kelly). Clear premixed vinyl adhesive is a mix with a water content of roughly 60-70%.
Vinyl wallpaper can be enjoyed for years before the homeowner decides to remove it, cover it, or until the house or apartment is demolished. Removal can be done using several methods including homemade solutions, purchased wallpaper liquid or gel stripper, or with the use of a steamer. Homemade and commercial removers are made using different ingredients, however they work in the same way “an acid or base in the remover works as a catalyst for a chemical reaction with the water called hydrolysis, which breaks down the adhesive glue” (Surina).
Homemade wallpaper remover can be made using “equal parts water and vinegar or 25 percent liquid laundry softener and 75 percent water” (Surina). White vinegar, or distilled vinegar is the most commonly used vinegar for this process. Making vinegar is based on the fermentation of “acetic acid bacteria growing in a medium containing ethanol” (Nakayama, 1217). Liquid laundry softener is made up of a major active ingredient “normally the salt of a cationic surfactant such as a quaternary ammonium compound (QUAC)” (Saraiva, 357). The main surfactants used in production are “dialkyldimethylammonium, esterquat, and diethylenetriamine derivatives (diamidoamine ethoxylated quaternaries and imidazolinium quaternaries)” (Saraiva, 357).
Commercial wallpaper remover can typically be purchased as a solvent or gel, many of which are made using “diethylene glycol and unknown percentages of enzyme (diastase), sodium benzoate, surfactant, and water” (Marraffa, 402). There are several brands of wall paper stripper and I was unable to find what specific materials go into making these products.
Steaming is the third option for removal. To do this only requires water, which is boiled to produce steam, and a steaming machine attachment allows the steam to be applied directly to the wall and soften the glue. Once the glue is no longer a solid a scrapper is used to remove the paste.
The materials necessary to serve the entire lifecycle are vast. To begin, the production of wallpaper is dependent on the production of paper, PVC and solvent based inks. From the wallpaper manufacturer rolls of wallpaper are packaged and shipped to the consumer or distributer. Next, the assembly of wallpaper relies on the production of wallpaper primers and adhesives. Lastly, the removal of wallpaper is facilitated by wallpaper removers, homemade or commercial, or steam. The materials that go into each production process got harder to trace with each stage of the lifecycle and ultimately I found little information, if any, on the raw materials used to produce primers, adhesives, and commercial strippers. While trying to research these products I kept running into broad terms for chemical ingredients such as “solvents,” “stabilisers,” “plasticizers,” and all-encompassing explanations of “various filler materials” or simply “other additives.” In the given amount of time and with my limited knowledge of chemistry I have worked hard to attempt to track the raw materials that go into the lifecycle of wallpaper.
Anstey Wallpaper Company. A Guide to Wallpaper Printing. Leicestershire: Anstey Wallpaper Company Ltd., 2014. PDF.
ARCOM and The American Institute of Architects. The Graphic Standards Guide to Architectural Finishes: Using MASTERSPEC to Evaluate, Select, and Specify Materials. Ed. Elena M. S. Garrison. N.p.: John Wiley & Sons, 2003. Google Books. Google. Web.9 Mar. 2014. <http://books.google.com/books?id=3r0ZBdbc470C&pg=PA197&lpg=PA197&dq =how+ is+viny+coated+wallpaper+made&source=bl&ots=Y_G77_IrQb&sig=E3n8P Lzk76T0lF 58TRsCbcXwTT0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=M8D_Uo_wDNPYoAS7n4KIBg &ved=0CFoQ6AEwBzgK#v=onepage&q=how%20is%20vinyl%20coated%20wallpaper%20made&f=false>.
Berlow, Lawrence H. "How Paper Is Made." How Products Are Made. Advameg, Inc., 2014.Web. 09 Mar. 2014. <http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Paper.html>.
Bryk, Nancy E. "How Wallpaper Is Made." How Products Are Made. Advameg, Inc., 2014. Web. 09 Mar. 2014. <http://www.madehow.com/Volume-3/Wallpaper.html>.
Chang, Chang-Tang, and Chyow-Shan Chiou. “Assessment of Control Strategies for Reducing Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from the Polyvinyl Chloride Wallpaper Production Industry in Taiwan.” Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 56:5, (2006): 611-17, DOI: 10.1080/10473289.2006.10464468
Dorman, Evelyn S., and Chris Cavette. "How Acrylic Plastic Is Made." How Products Are Made. Advameg, Inc., 2014. Web. 8 Mar. 2014. <http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Acrylic-Plastic.html#ixzz2vWx6adsp>.
Dow Construction Chemicals. Cellulose Ethers Technical Overview and Product Guide. N.p.: The Dow Chemical Company, May 2012. PDF.
FAO. "Methyl Cellulose." FAO.org. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, n.d. Web. 6 Mar. 2014. <http://www.fao.org/ag/agn/jecfa-additives/specs/Monograph1/Additive-277.pdf>.
“How is PVC Made.” PVC.org. PVC Europe, n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2014.< http://www.pvc.org/en/p/how-is-pvc-made>.
Kelly, Robert M., and Jim Turner. "Wallpaper Adhesives." Wallpaperinstaller.com. Rebecca Schunck Wallpaper Installation & Removal, n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2014. <http://www.wallpaperinstaller.com/adhesives.html>.
Kunjappu, Joy T. "Ink Chemistry." Chemistry World Magazine. Royal Society of Chemistry, Mar. 2013. Web. 9 Mar. 2014. <http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/issues/2003/march/inkchemistry.asp>.
Marraffa, Jeanna M., Michael G. Holland, Christine M. Stork, Christopher D. Hoy, Michael J. Hodgman, “Diethylene Glycol: Widely Used Solvent Presents Serious Poisoning Potential,” The Journal of Emergency Medicine, Volume 35, Issue 4, November 2008, Pages 401-406, ISSN 0736-4679, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jemermed.2007.06.025.
Martinz, Daniel, and J. Quadros. "Compounding PVC with Renewable Materials." Plastics, Rubber & Composites 37.9/10 (2008): 459-464. Academic Search Complete. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <https://vpn.lib.ucdavis.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/,DanaInfo=web.b.ebscohost.com+pdfviewer?sid=e48f5234-8075-4c81-a7d7-c1899161d5f6%40sessionmgr110&vid=4&hid=123>.
Nakamura, Shinichiro, Kenichi Nakajima, Yoshie Yoshizawa, Kazuyo Matsubae-Yokoyama, and Tetsuya Nagasaka. "Analyzing Polyvinyl Chloride in Japan with the Waste Input-Output Material Flow Analysis Model." Journal of Industrial Ecology 13.5 (2009): 706-17. Web. 17 Feb. 2014. <DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-9290.2009.00153.x>.
Nakayama, Takeyoshi. "I. Biochemical Studies on Ethanol Oxidation." The Journal ofBiochemistry 46.9 (1959): 1217-225. Oxford Journals. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. <http://
“PVC Stabilisers.” PVC.org. PVC Europe, n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2014. <http://www.pvc.org/en/p/
Rust-Oleum Corporation. SUREGRIP® 120 Activator for Pre-Pasted Wallpaper. Rep. no.
GDH-135. Rust-Oleum Corporation, n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2014.<http://www.rustoleum.com/ ~/media/DigitalEncyclopedia/Documents/RustoleumUSA/TDS/English/CBG/Zinsser/ SureGrip/SUG-09%20SureGrip%20120%20Activator%20for%20Pre-Pasted%20Wall
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Eberlin. "Fabric Softeners: Nearly Instantaneous Characterization and Quality Control of
Cationic Surfactants by Easy Ambient Sonic-spray Ionization Mass Spectrometry." Rapid
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Web. 2 Mar. 2014. <http://www.madehow.com/Volume-3/Latex.html>.
"Solvent Based Inks." PNEAC.org. Printers' National Environmental Assistance Center, 2014.
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Surina, Echo. "How Wallpaper Remover Works" 06 July 2009. HowStuffWorks.com. Web. 10
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March 13, 2014
Wallpaper - Embodied Energy
Many people enjoy a beautifully decorated room, but have you ever thought about the energy that goes into making a beautifully decorated room? All of the materials that are present start from somewhere and there had to be a process to get each item and into your home. This process is almost invisible to the present day consumer. With just a click of a button on our computer we are able to retrieve items within as little as 24 hours to our homes.
The focus of this paper will be to make the energy required in the lifecycle of wallpaper more visible to those involved. We will discover the energy needed to extract the raw materials from the ground, to ship those materials to the factory, and to combine the materials to make wallpaper. We will look into the energy required to ship the materials to the distributer, then to the customer, and ultimately, the energy required to install the wallpaper and the energy involved in recycling it. The energy required to fulfill all of these steps is known as embodied energy.
During my research I had a difficult time finding scholarly data stating the exact amount and type of energy that is involved in the process of wallpaper. It was difficult to track the chemical energy that is involved in taking the raw materials to the finish product. It was also difficult to track the distribution routes as there are so many.
What I did find was that there are numerous types of wallpaper, printing processes (based on cost and aesthetics), distributers, and end processes. The two main categories of wallpaper are for commercial and residential use. To begin we will be looking at vinyl-based wallpaper, which is the most commonly type used. There are four main materials used in vinyl-based wallpaper paper: poly vinyl chloride, solvent-based ink, and a type of adhesive to help the wallpaper stick to the wall.
To begin the process, paper is needed. According to the article, “Wallpaper” by Made How, there are three different common types of paper used for wallpaper: ground wood, wood pulp, or wood pulp with synthetic material (Made How, Volume 3). To make ground wood sheets you must start with an entire tree. To cut this tree down kinetic, electrical and chemical energy is needed. The tree bark is removed and the tree is pressed against a revolving tread resulting in the wood being ground into slurry (Made How, Volume 3). This process involves kinetic energy.
Wood pulp sheets go through a similar process. After debarking and chipping the tree into slurry, it is ran through a machine that adds chlorine dioxide and oxygen to separate the lignin and bleach the pulp (Made How, Volume 3). This chemical process is a result of chemical energy.
After both of these processes, the slurry is then made into wood sheets, which is used for relatively inexpensive wallpaper backing (Made How, Volume 3). To do this kinetic energy is used to lay the slurry on a mesh screen and squeeze it through rollers to get all of the excess water out. After this the wet sheet of paper is ran over multiple drying rollers that use energy to heat the paper and ultimately the paper wound into a big roll of paper (Made How, Volume 3 & Figure 1).
An average roll of paper from the mill is 65 inches wide and up to 22,000 feet long and weighs around one ton. The rolls are shipped to the production site where they are cut into strips that are 21 inches wide by 10,000 feet long (Made How, Volume 3).
There are hundreds of wallpaper manufacturers in the United States alone and the process of shipping the paper from the paper mill to the wallpaper production site takes a considerable amount of man and machine energy.
Looking at the paper production company on a large scale it is among the top four highest energy consumption industries according to the Energy Information Administration Manufacturing Industrial Trend Data (Image 3). In the past 20 years the paper industry has used 2,500-3,500 trillion BTU per year.
Also, to give a fuller idea of the energy needed to support the process of producing paper we have to look at the energy needed to support the transportation, facility and production site (Figure 4). The biggest energy consumers in this process are the heating process at 13.53 percent, the conventional boiler use at 17.23 percent and the CHP and/or cogeneration process at 31.72 percent of the total energy consumption.
Another important ingredient that is necessary in the production of wallpaper is poly vinyl chloride or also known as PVC. According to The Vinyl Institute in the article “About Vinyl & PVC” PVC is a product of fossil fuels and salt. Energy is used in a process called ‘cracking’ where petroleum or natural gas is put through a process that produces ethylene. Ethylene is produced through a chemical process that involves thermal and chemical energy.
When ethylene is combined with chlorine it goes through a chemical energy to produce ethylene dichloride (About Vinyl & PVC). The cracking process happens again, involving more chemical energy, and changes the ethylene dichloride into a gas known as vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) (About Vinyl & PVC).
After this the materials go through polymerization where the gaseous monomer is turned into a white power called vinyl resin (About Vinyl & PVC). Depending on what the ultimate goal is for the vinyl a form of compounding happens where the vinyl resin may be blended with additives such as plasticizers (phthalates) for flexibility, stabilizers for durability, and pigments for color. For wallpaper, the vinyl resin will be transformed into PVC pellets.
The inks used are called solvent-based inks. According to the Huffington Post in their video “How Ink is Made”, with Peter Walfare, president and Chief Ink Maker of The Printing Ink Company, there are two main ingredients needed when creating ink - pigment (color) and a vehicle, which is the carrier and similar to a varnish or an industrial honey. Walfare continues to explain, the pigment and vehicle are hand mixed using kinetic and chemical energy from the workers to get the perfect color and consistency (How Ink Is Made). Then all of the ingredients are mixed with a larger mechanical mixture. The mixing process heats the ink and causes it to gain a thinner consistency (How Ink Is Made). This is when the pigment is added. Grinding is the next step, as many of the pigment particles are stuck together (How Ink Is Made).
Walfare then talks about two different machines have the job of breaking down these pigment particles, the bead mill and the three-roller machine. The bead mill contains many tiny steal balls that will impact on the pigment and cause pigment particles to break off of a lump of ink resulting in a rough grind. Three-roller mill has three rollers that roll in opposite directions. It is best for creating the glossy inks. As the ink rolls through there is a person standing at the end scraping the ink into a large barrel.
According to the Walfare and the Printing Ink Company, quality control is the next step, which is done by a team of well-trained ink makers. They must make sure that the colors are the same in every batch. The first kind of test is a grind test where a small amount of ink is applied to a piece of steal and then smeared flat by one of the workers. This is to make sure every particle has been reduced to its smallest size. The workers take the smear samples and view it under a microscope to ensure the quality. The Printing Ink Company states that the most important ink test is the bleach test. A small amount of the colored ink is placed into a jar of white ink. It is then placed on a machine and it is mixed vigorously. The color is then compared and computer programs are used to test the color value.
Once it is approved by the quality control it is then taken back, normally by a forklift, to the large mixer where more ingredients are added and more mixing is done (How Ink Is Made). These ingredients are added manually. Once this passes more manual quality control tests the ink is placed on a cart and manually pushed over to the three-roller mill again. This removes the air and adds more gloss and polishing to the ink (How Ink is Made). Once the ink is in its can to be shipped it has been through three grinding mills, two mixtures, and five quality control stations (How Ink Is Made). It is then labeled, packaged, and shipped to the wallpaper manufacturer. This requires a lot of chemical energy, kinetic energy, and fossil fuels to transport it to its desired destination.
According to “How It’s Made Wallpaper” video, at the production site there is a large mixing bowl where water, PVC pellets, stabilizing powder are combined. They add a solvent, which will helps dissolve the PVC through a chemical process. Electrical and kinetic energy are then used to stir the ‘batter’ with big mixtures until it has the perfect texture. Once the mixture is the right texture it is poured by manpower between rollers onto the front side of the paper (How It’s Made Wallpaper). The applicator roller uses energy to spread the mix evenly onto the paper; another roller rolls it up and unwinds it once more (How It’s Made Wallpaper).
The paste comes next, according to “How It’s Made Wallpaper”. Next a paste is applied to the opposite side of the paper. Electrical powered rollers pull the paper and applied paste through more rollers to dry it and, then the paper is winded up once more creating a huge reel. It is then run through a blade to cut the paper to the precise size 21.5 inches wide.
More kinetic energy is used when a worker then checks the paper by tearing a piece to be sure the vinyl is strong and staying on the paper. Also, someone is offsite designing the pattern that will be printed on the paper.
There are many types of printing processes, but I found the most information on four types, which are surface printing, gravure printing, silk-screen printing, and rotary printing (Made How, Volume 3). Each type includes kinetic, electric and thermal energy.
According to Made How, surface printing is when metal rolls are embossed with a rubber pattern and then mounted onto a machine. Ink is applied to the surface, normally kinetically; the ink is then pressed into the paper.
Next, Made How explains gravure printing involves each color of a pattern is printed with a single roller. There can be up to 12 cylinders per machine that each do part of the pattern. The paper roll moves to one cylinder while a roller picks up color and pushes it against the engraved cylinder (Made How, Volume 3). Then a rubber roller presses the paper against the cylinder allowing the ink to enter the engravings. Lastly, the roller carries paper from the cylinder to the dryer, which sets the ink. Once the ink is dry, requiring thermal energy, it goes to the next cylinder for another color.
Next, there is screen-printing (Figure 6). According to Made How, Stencils are required for each color in the pattern and are made of silk mesh screen. A photographic negative is made to resemble to pattern. The silk screen is stretched over magnesium or a wood frame. Light sensitive emulsion is used to coat the screen and the negative is placed on top, this creates chemical energy. Once light hits the negative the emulsion hardens and the areas not covered by the negative form a stencil. Next the paper is manually set on a table with a screen stencil placed on top and a scraper applies ink. This process is repeated the length of the paper. The screen must be allowed to dry before the next color is added, involving thermal energy. Since this process is done manually it requires the most kinetic energy from the screen printer, but the colors that can be used are limitless and the hand guiding ensures patterns are perfectly placed.
According to Made How, Rotary printing is another option. With this process gravure printing is combined with the precision of photography produced stencils. This process looks like the expensive screen printing but is much quicker. It can print 80 yards per minute. Mesh stencils are wrapped around hollow tubes and manually mounted on the machine (Made How, Volume 3).
Once it is printed the workers compare the original to the printed. If it looks perfect it goes to production. Here the paper travels through print cylinders. To dry the ink they paper goes through a hot blower system. One side of the wallpaper may or may not be prepasted. If they are prepasted the paste is normally made out of wet cornstarch or wheat starch-based coating (Made How, Volume 3).
Once it passes inspection, Made How explains the paper is rolled onto a big reel. Blades then cut the paper into 32.8-foot rolls. Using a conveyer system, the rolls travel through a system where they are shrink-wrapped. Once they are wrapped the rolls are shipped to a show room for customers to be able to purchase. The shipment requires more chemical and kinetic energy and more fossil fuels. I could not find the exact amount of energy this takes due to there being many different ink manufacturers and many different wallpaper manufacturers.
There are hundreds of wallpaper distributers in the United States alone and I could not find the exact amount of energy required in the transportation process. We know though that the use of kinetic energy is involved through the use of machines and manpower to get the supplies to where they need to be.
The wallpaper can either be purchased online or in person, both requiring kinetic energy of the person, and either fossil fuels and electricity of their vehicles or electricity of their computers.
The customer must then drive the product back home or the distributer uses their vehicles to transport it to the customer. Once the wallpaper it at its destination, it must be installed. The walls must be prepped before the wallpaper can be applied. According to Martha Stewart, first you should spackle and sand your wall, then add a coat of wallpaper primer. It can be very labor intensive to install wallpaper correctly. The lines must be lined up perfectly and perfectly sized strips of wallpaper must be cut to fit the wall. Stewart recommends leaving four extra inches of wallpaper so you can cut the perfect line once it is stuck to the wall. Once the wallpaper is up, the customer must get rid of any air bubbles under the paper.
When wallpaper reaches the end of its life in a house there are a few options. The home or business owner can chose to cover it with more wallpaper or put dry wall over it, which is not recommended. Some wallpaper stays on the wall for the life of the house or business. Unfortunately, wallpaper is unable to be recycled once it is on the wall. There are many steps of manual labor in order to build a wall over the wallpaper or to remove it. According to Do It Yourself Network, if you wish to remove it there are many steps. First, you must prepare your room by places drop clothes on the floor and over any valuables. Remove all outlet and switch plate covers and remember to cut the power to the room. Next, the owner must score the walls to create small holes in it, which helps the stripper penetrate through the adhesive. The third step is to mix a solution; this can be done with numerous commercial strippers or hot water and fabric softener. Use a spray bottle to get the mixture to soak the walls. Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes. At this point you should be able to grab the wallpaper from the bottom and pull it off the wall. Finally, clean the walls to remove any adhesive materials.
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2. Anstey Wallpaper Company. A Guide to Wallpaper Printing. Leicestershire: Anstey Wallpaper Company Ltd., 2014. PDF. http://www.anstey.uk.com/files/documents/PDFs/Manufacturing/anstey_print_guide.pdf.
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17. Schunck, Rebbeca. "Wallpaper Installer Rebecca Schunck's Wallpaper Information Page." Wallpaper Installer Rebecca Schunck's Wallpaper Information Page. N.p., n.d. Web. Feb. 2014. <http://wallpaperinstaller.com/info.html>
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Professor Christina Cogdell
13 March 2014
Waste and Emissions
Stretched upon the solid wall, the viewer notices the detailed wallpaper, elegantly clinging to its surface. At first glance, it seems simplistic; little does the viewer know the labor-intensive hours and skill it took to produce the wallpaper. The process of wallpaper is a give and take of good and bad. While it is pretty and seemingly innocuous, the true information behind its waste and emissions is somewhat sinister. The chemical and additives that accompany the wallpaper from production the primary materials, production, distribution, application and finally the end of its life, illuminate wallpaper to the consumer in a new way.
The beginning of wallpaper starts from trees. Swaying effortlessly in the wind, trees are cut down for the initial start of making wallpaper. There are multiple ways to break down the tree into paper, but one commonly used method is the kraft process. Broken to a pulp, chemical and other additives are combined to make the paper. “The weak black liquor is separated from the pulp by washing, and is sent to the kraft recovery system, where the inorganic pulping chemicals are recovered for reuse, while the dissolved organics are used as a fuel to make steam and power.” While the wood pulp continues on, the remaining waste from the process reused for next time. In through the incinerators and broilers, to break down the firm will of the tree, toxic chemicals are released. “Methanol and other volatile organic compounds are formed during pulping and can be present in contaminated condensates” (Tran)
Although it is necessary to use chemical compounds to break down the material, the volatile organic compounds released are very dangerous. Recovery processes are used in order to try and contain the chemicals but not all can be recovered.
The U.S is troubled by the release of these chemicals. “Methanol ranked third in the U.S. among all chemicals for total releases into the environment in 1992. Of the total released, 195 million pounds were into the atmosphere, 16.4 million pounds were into surface water, 27 million pounds into underground injection sites, and 3.3 million pounds were onto land.” Seeping into the world around, methanol is also harmful to human health. It can enter the body by way of oral, inhalation, or dermal contact. If exposed to a large amount of methanol whether airborne or through touch, it can lead to death. When poisoned by this chemical it permeates the body and can cause “visual disturbances and central nervous system lesions” (CHEMICAL SUMMARY FOR METHANOL). Examples of central nervous system lesions being “headache, dizziness, abdominal, back, and leg pain, delirium that can lead to coma, and nausea” (CHEMICAL SUMMARY FOR METHANOL). Chronic exposure to this chemical increases these symptoms and can lead to even more detrimental outcomes. “Globally over 1.3 billion tons per year of weak black liquor are processed; about 200 million tons per year of black liquor dry solids are burned in recovery boilers to recover 50 million tons of cooking chemicals as Na2O, and to produce 700 million tons of high pressure steam. This makes black liquor the fifth most important fuel in the world, next to coal, oil, natural gas, and gasoline.” This being said, the recovery system of paper making needs to be improved upon, in order to reduce the emissions of methanol and other volatile compounds.
From the production of the paper, the journey of wallpaper continues. Through the conveyer belts the paper moves, to the next stage, which is being coated in polyvinyl chloride. Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC is created from vinyl chloride monomomers or VCM. “Emissions or VCM are primarily to air, with a small percentage to water” (Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM)). In order to create the PVC, the production must start with VCM and have other additives combined to get the desired product. “Some monomers exist in the form of reactive gaseous chemical substances, and some of these may cause health hazards when in direct contact with humans” (Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM)).
To create VCM ethylene, which is produced from petroleum, and chlorine are combined. Emissions from ethylene can be very harmful. Absorption of this chemical can be destructive to the central nervous system and can cause “produce coma, seizures, metabolic acidosis and renal failure, though by different mechanisms” (ethylene and diethylene glycol, Allister Vale). A variety of other products go into the making of PVC “such as plasticizers, stabilizers, flame retardants, and fillers, which can account for 30% to 60% of PVC's total weight” (Analyzing Polyvinyl Chloride). Since the US has become more environmentally conscious, producers of PVC look for ways to reuse the product. Sadly, due to the additives in the mixture, it ruins the material from being recycled. “Although EoL PVC products can be incinerated and heat can be recovered from them, the inclusion of halogen components and additives can be challenging for the maintenance of furnaces and the control of flue gases.”(Analyzing Polyvinyl Chloride). The halogens present make in nearly impossible to reuse the product. “Crucial in the recycling of EoL PVC products is avoiding the mixing of soft- and hard-PVC products, which have significantly different compositions of additives. According to our results, soft-PVC products, such as PVC films used for agricultural applications and for manufacturing coated paper, account for about 37% of all PVC products”(U.S. EPA).
Along with health risks, the production of PVC also can be environmentally harmful “Groundwater contamination can occur at hazardous waste sites and from landfills where vinyl chloride can be generated as a degradation product of chlorinated plastics or other chlorinated chemicals (i.e., chlorinated ethylenes, such as TCE)”(U.S. EPA). Due to human error and lack of better knowledge, the chemicals can cause havoc on the surrounding landscape. “Vinyl chloride can be released from poorly controlled incineration of chlorinated plastics. Vinyl chloride can also be released through volatilization from some waste landfills, usually as a degradation product from plastics or other chlorinated chemicals (i.e., chlorinated ethylenes)” (U.S. EPA). Even though there are regulations set on the [production of PVC, the waste management needs to become securer.
Although it is not the nation’s worst enemy, the production of PVC can be harmful. It can damage the human central nervous system, and make life generally uncomfortable. The product is not reusable, since it has so many additives. Finally the product can be harmful from the chemical and emissions that can slip out of the factories. Once the paper is coated in PVC, the wallpaper continues through the factory to be printed upon.
Along the rollers, the wallpaper proceeds, to the next station of its existence. Rolling in between the ink-dispensing machine, there are a few ways to print on wallpaper. Three or six surface printing and four gravure printing are common. “Unlike water-based inks, solvent inks are designed for printing on plastics and other nonporous substrates. Once printed, the solvent flashes off quickly, leaving only the dry ink film on the substrate” (Solvent-based inks and HSE digital imaging). The ink can be dangerous while it is being printed, and after it is printed. Compounds in the solvent-based ink are irritants to the respiratory system, skin and sometimes can injure the central nervous system. Worryingly, the colorants used in the ink contain carbon black, which are known carcinogens. “With such a high percentage of the ink being volatile, solvent vapors will be released during printing and will be present throughout the printing production area. Also, the substrate will continue to offgas solvents after the material has been printed, especially if it has been rolled up. In addition to the inhalation risks, the solvents commonly used are skin and eye irritants” (solvent-based inks and HSE digital imaging).
Once printed, the remaining ink and other wastes are discarded. The empty ink cartridges are high flammable, making them unsalvageable for recycle. Since it is flammable, the waste from the remaining ink is labeled as a hazardous waste. Ranging from ink to ink, some can contain a high level of dangerous metals, which cannot be recycled or disposed on down the drain. Because of the chemicals, nothing can be saved after the solvent-based ink used and it is to harmful to try to recycle. “On the environmental side, the solvents typically used are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to ground-level ozone. Ozone is the primary ingredient in smog. The use and release of VOCs and other hazardous air pollutants (that may be contained in solvent-based inkjet inks) may require reporting federally and in some cases, provincially” (Solvent-based inks and HSE digital imaging). After use, consumers dump the ink cartridges into the trash, where they will eventually make there way into the landfill. From there the amount of chemicals will build up and seep into the ground and could possibly have lasting percussions.
In order to attach the wallpaper, it is given an adhesive. There are several different choices of adhesive used to secure wallpaper. While sweet, and pleasant smelling, the glue does contain some harmful compounds. There is not much information discussing the harmful waste and emissions from the adhesives.
Primer is used to secure the wallpaper on to the surface. There are a variety of choices. Depending on the type of material the wall is made of, dictates what type of primer to use. “On drywall (painted with builder's flat) use a primer/sealer. On new plaster (after the proper curing time) use size mixed with the adhesive you plan to install the final wallcovering with to prepare the surface. On older plaster (painted with latex or oil) use an acrylic primer or primer/sealer” (Schunck). Similarly to adhesive, there is not lot information on the waste and emissions of primer.
With the final stages of wallpaper, it is packaged and distributed to different locations. The plastic packaging used in the distribution of wallpaper does not have another life after it is separated from the wallpaper. Waste is emitted from the trucks as it transports the products to the consumers. As it travels along the network of highways, the trucks disperse their waste as they head to their destination. “The gas portion of diesel exhaust is mostly carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur oxides, and hydrocarbons, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The soot (particulate) portion of diesel exhaust is made up of particles such as carbon, organic materials (including PAHs), and traces of metallic compounds” (Diesel Exhaust). These gases are harmful to the human body and can cause a lot of damage. In studies, researchers observed that these gases could cause cancer and other lethal diseases.
When the wallpaper reaches its destination, it can be applied to the surface and the consumer can set about decorating their walls. It is recommended to “cut vertical strips 4 inches longer than the wall height; once the paper is up, you'll trim the excess” (Installing Wallpaper). The excess pieces are thrown away, since there are to many additives to recycle the product. With the passing of time, if the consumer becomes disenchanted with the wallpaper, they must strip it off or cover it up. Stripping or applying new wallpaper exposes the consumer to toxic fumes. Wallpaper stripped from the walls cannot be recycled because of all the additives and volatile organic compounds in it, so it ends life in a landfill.
From the product of the slurry and PVC to the printing of the ink, many components go into the process of wallpaper. Each step yields a material, along with waste and generally harmful emissions. The production of the paper and the PVC is harmful to the central nervous system and PVC waste is unrecyclable. The waste from the solvent-based inks is toxic and carcinogenic to the consumer and producer. With the distribution, comes more harmful emissions and the application only yields more useless waste. The many stages of wallpaper are accompanied by waste and other harmful emissions. With a better understanding of the waste and emissions produced through the life cycle of wallpaper, the consumer can be aware of the damaging material and how to dispose of the materials. It is possible that in the future there will be more eco friendly wallpaper that is less toxic to the environment and the people around it. It’s hard to fully understand a product until it is investigated and all of its secrets are laid out on the table. With more research and more regulations, hopefully consumers will become safer from the toxins of wallpaper. With this better understanding, hopefully there will be more environmentally options for wallpaper before the landfills become so full of chemicals that they have lasting effects on the surrounding landscape. Although aesthetically pleasing, wallpaper is very harmful. Elegantly adhered to the wall, the wallpaper seems innocent. After truly investigating the product the consumer sees the malevolence, waste and emissions it produces.
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