Recycled football rivalries

September 29, 2009 

Recycled football rivalries

Did you read the story about the Chiawana Riverhawks winning their first football game? Could you have read that story from the same printing plate that ran the story about Southridge getting their first win? What about reading it from the same plate that ran the Bombers’ first ... Wait a minute -- I've gone too far you say?

The process that transfers the printed word onto the paper where you can read it is mostly done by a process called “offset printing” these days. Super thin aluminum printing plates are impressed against rubber shielded rollers (blankets) and the pictures, words and stories are transferred to the paper. The ink adheres to the plate and is washed, or “offset,” by water and chemicals (fountain solution). This chemical bath removes the ink from areas of the plate where it is not supposed to stick. Think water and oil. Same properties.

Those plates are made mostly of aluminum. Same stuff as soda cans. Now aluminum is reusable like crazy. It's like the No. 1 recyclable product. In fact, recycling has no affect on the structure of the metal. It can be reused indefinitely.

Back to the prep football teams. Since it takes only 5 percent of the energy to make aluminum from recycled aluminum as opposed to starting the process from scratch, it is something that is reused again and again. Some of the molten metal that was the plate that told you about Richland's first football win, REALLY could have been present to hail the first Riverhawks’ victory.

Recycling of printing plates occurs at The Herald as well as many of the papers around the world. The reuse of the metal buys time from nature and saves the mess of mining the bauxite ore from the ground.

The story actually goes deeper. For years, back when newspapers made plates from another malleable metal, lead, there was the further step of shooting the page on film. From the film the printing plate was produced.

Film is made up of silver halide crystals. Once the negative was used to obtain a plate, it was put aside then transferred to a collection area.

These sheets were sold back to places like Kodak, for instance, where the silver was recovered and made into more halide crystals.

Newspapers companies, while using a lot of resources to manufacture their product, have been recycling for a long time.

Thanks to responsible recycling and assuming you haven't gone digital and are still shooting film, maybe some recycled silver from the Kennewick Lions’ first ever win was present in the picture you snapped of those Riverhawks celebrating their victory!

-- Ron Buckland is the Herald’s post press department maintenance coordinator and has worked at the paper since 1976.

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