The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is an incredibly important and expansive undertaking. Simply put, it’s a governmentally directed effort to improve the water quality of the Great Lakes and to curtail and/or eliminate invasive plant and animal species. This plan is an effort to address over a century of intentional and unintentional contamination of the Great Lakes and surrounding water basins.
You may ask why this is relevant to someone that purchases or uses stamping fluids? The relevance lies in a directive to reduce phosphorus/phosphate levels in the great lakes, surrounding tributaries and watersheds. High levels of phosphorus/phosphates can lead to explosive algal growth (eutrophication) which can have catastrophic effects on other aquatic life (fish, etc.). These algal blooms also impact populations relying on the lakes for drinking water. In recent years, the drinking water supply to whole cities has been compromised and restricted as a result – requiring residents to drink and bathe in bottled water until the problem was resolved.
Most of the phosphorus/phosphate that causes the problems comes from run-off from agricultural land (manure and fertilizers) and to a lesser degree from some industrial cleaning and pretreatment processes. While not directly targeted as a source – some metal-stamping fluids contain phosphorus-based additives to improve stamping and corrosion performance. Will these be impacted (like chlorinated paraffins) by governmental regulations or restrictions? – the short term answer is “no one knows for certain”, but sometimes when regulators “cast a large net” to regulate problematic chemicals – other, less problematic products can be swept up as well. Only time will tell.
It may surprise you to know IRMCO’s ownership made the conscious decision roughly 40 years ago to produce oil-free stamping fluids based on similar ideals – to reduce environmental pollutants and impact of our company and customers. IRMCO then took the next logical step by working closely with equipment companies toward minimizing the volume of lubricant applied to production parts. This has since been referred to as “the IRMCO WAY” – minimal fluid amounts – maximum results.
Recently, funding of the EPA and the GLRI has come under scrutiny as our nation prioritizes areas of concern. This has left the future of the GLRI in question. Regardless of the direction the Initiative takes, IRMCO is committed to the same ideals of minimizing the environmental impact of our and our customer’s processes. As the story unfolds – please check back with us for updates as they develop and time progresses.