About 1 million ink cartridges per day are thrown away.

It’s important to reduce printer ink waste or find alternatives, especially since they contain ingredients that can be toxic to you and the environment. It’s not only the chemical makeup that’s a problem; everything from creating a cartridge to the disposal has negative effects on our planet.

Next time you need to refill your cartridges or have an important printing job, choose the right eco-friendly ink. This will lower your carbon footprint, and you won’t be sacrificing quality or efficiency.

Not sure where to start? Keep reading to determine the most eco-friendly ink around.

Exploring Alternatives

Regular ink requires colorants. These are additives that improve the performance of the ink. Early inks were derived from plant-based sources. That changed in the early 1970s when there was a limit to vegetable oils, so petroleum was used instead. 

Although there are more synthetic products used, manufacturers are exploring the option of eco-friendly printer ink. 

You should be familiar with the most common oils used in vegetable-based inks. This includes soy, canola, safflower, and linseed (also known as flax). As you might imagine, each of these oils comes with its own benefits. 

Soybean, for example, provides more vibrant colors than oils made of petroleum. 

While vegetable inks are a wonderful alternative that helps avoid environmental damage caused by extracting petroleum, it requires special knowledge to handle. Vegetable ink takes longer to dry than traditional inks, and the colors might appear different than their usual counterparts.

Don’t let this deter you from choosing to print green, especially since there are many advantages. For example, the Los Angeles Times switched to soy ink, and they reduced their VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) emissions by 200 tons per year!

It’s worth noting that not all vegetable inks are sustainable. Many of them still contain harmful ingredients, including petroleum or heavy metals. Be sure that you do your research before making a decision.

Deciding on the Best Option

There is a lot to consider when it comes to choosing the right ink for your printing purposes.

There’s the method of printing, which consists of everything from digital inkjet to flexographic. Then there’s what you are printing on. That’s right, paper isn’t the only material—there’s also plastic, aluminum, glass, cotton, you get the idea. 

The good news is that most projects will benefit from any vegetable ink. For example, the method used to print newspapers utilizes soy-based inks. When it comes to other jobs, such as coated surfaces on a flexographic printer, water-based inks are more difficult to use. 

The most common vegetable ink is made of soybean oil. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits:

  • Rich, vivid colors
  • Maintains its stability throughout the entire print job
  • Safe, sustainable, and a renewable resource 
  • Cost-effective
  • Easier to recycle
  • Lower rub-off

So, not only will you not have to pay more for soy inks than conventional ink, but it is great at getting the job done! Don’t forget all the good you’re doing for the environment. 

Of course, if we are mentioning the benefits, you should know about drawbacks as well. There are two main disadvantages to soy ink.

One is it has slow drying abilities, which means it takes longer for the ink to dry. This shouldn’t be a problem if it’s handled by a professional. 

The second is that although it is similar in cost to traditional ink, some soy ink can cost up to 25% more than petroleum-based ink. With that said, there is still a clear advantage to using vegetable-based ink over its more harmful counterpart.

What About Algae Ink?

When it comes to eco-friendly ink, it’s difficult to beat soy. However, you should keep your eyes peeled for another alternative that is sure to make waves: algae ink.

Algae uses carbon dioxide and sunlight to create oxygen. More than half of our oxygen intake is produced by algae, which means it’s technically keeping us alive. 

Algae ink is created by growing it in controlled and compacted containers. Then, plant-based components are added to complete the ink formula. Algae ink can be used on cardboard, paper, and even cotton textiles! 

Of course, it’s a great eco-friendly ink option because it is 100% biodegradable. Place it in a compost pile, and it’ll degrade in only a few days.

You don’t have to worry about sacrificing too much either. Algae ink is processed like any other ink. It’s also a darker black than traditional carbon black ink and more resistant to UV light!

So, between soy ink and algae ink, you have two amazing green options that can help heal the planet. Although you may not be sure about trying either of them, look for a local store that might offer these as an alternative.

If that’s not possible, you always have the internet to help you find a printing press that uses eco-friendly ingredients.

Eco-Friendly Ink: Make the Switch Today

No matter what your printing project is, you want it done well. The problem is, printer ink can be detrimental to you as well as the environment. Instead of paying for an ink made of toxic chemicals, you’ll want eco-friendly ink that can do the same job but without all the damaging side-effects.

But which plant-based ink is the best for the job? Well, that all depends on what you’re looking for! Generally, soy and algae ink are both great options for a variety of projects. 

Either way, you’ll rest easy knowing you made a great ‘green’ choice. 

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