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Why eco-friendly ink matters when it comes to print sustainability

There’s been an increased focus on print sustainability across the last decade , with many offices and individuals becoming mindful of the amount of paper they use. Recycled paper, double-sided printing, and minimizing the use of physical documents has become the norm, and with good reason; approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper is still thrown away annually in the US. Yet what’s often missing from the printing discussion that deserves attention is eco-friendlyeco friendly ink.

The environmental impact of ink is a crucial aspect of print sustainability. Traditional printer inks come with a hidden environmental cost. These inks often contain chemicals that are released into the atmosphere during printing. The production of printer ink consumes significant resources and contributes to pollution. Read on to find out ways to sustainably use printer ink.

The environmental impact of traditional ink

The most widely used type of ink traditionally used in printing is petroleum-based ink. It’s made by combining petroleum distillates with other chemicals to create liquid ink. And just like vehicle fuel, extraction of petroleum contributes to the depletion of natural resources as it’s a non-renewable resource.

The process generates a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions, and the chemicals used for its production can be harmful for humans and the environment. It can also be difficult to recycle and is murder to get off the carpet.

And approximately 1.3 billion inkjet cartridges are used globally every year, with less than 30% of that number being recycled.

Why ink matters when it comes to print sustainability

The production of inks can consume resources and contributes to pollution. Inks can contain harmful chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or hazardous air pollutants (HAP) that are released during the atmosphere.

The use of eco-friendlyeco friendly inks can drastically reduce the negative environmental consequences of printing.

Soy-based, vegetable-based, and water-based inks are becoming increasingly popular for their lower VOC emissions and reduced environmental impact. These inks are biodegradable and less harmful to both human health and the environment.

Types of eco-friendlyeco friendly ink

When it comes to choosing inks that are gentler on the environment, consider the following:

  • Soy-based ink: Made from renewable soybeans, these inks are an excellent alternative to traditional petroleum-based inks. They offer vibrant colors and are easily recyclable.
  • Vegetable-based ink: Derived from plant sources like linseed or corn, these inks are a sustainable choice. They have lower VOC emissions and biodegrade more easily.
  • Water-based ink: These inks contain fewer solvents and are considered one of the most eco-friendly options. They have minimal impact on the environment and human health.
  • Recycled ink: Some companies offer recycled ink options, made from reclaimed or remanufactured ink cartridges. These inks contribute to a circular economy by reducing the need for new raw materials.

How to choose eco-friendlyeco friendly ink

When choosing eco-friendlyeco friendly inks, look for certifications that validate their environmental claims. For example, inks that meet the criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified Product Standard are generally considered more environmentally responsible.

These certifications ensure that the ink’s production and sourcing adhere to specific sustainability criteria.

The choice of ink should align with your specific printing requirements. Consider the type of printing and intended use. Different eco-friendly inks may be more suitable for certain applications.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to ink suppliers or manufacturers (or your local PaperCut reseller) for guidance.

Printer ink disposal and recycling improve print sustainability

Proper disposal of printer ink cartridges is vital to reduce environmental harm. Many ink cartridges end up in landfills, contributing to electronic waste.

Recycling programs for ink cartridges are widely available, and many manufacturers offer return options for used cartridges. By recycling, you not only reduce waste but also conserve valuable resources.

Reducing print volume is another effective way to minimize the environmental impact of printing. Implementing print management solutions, such as those offered by PaperCut, can help organizations track and control their printing habits.

This not only saves money but also reduces paper and ink consumption. Reducing the number of unnecessary prints and encouraging double-sided printing are simple yet effective strategies for responsible printing.

Steps towards printing sustainability

Taking steps towards sustainable printing, from choosing eco-friendlyeco friendly inks, recycling and reducing printing will help reduce your environmental impact. Being aware of the environmental consequences of traditional inks and choosing eco-friendly inks when applicable can be a great way to commit to a greener future.

To read more about Print Sustainability check out these articles:


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